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Unique Blanquita: the world's first case of incomplete albinism in owls

Added Wed, 24/04/2024
Дата публикации
Tue, 23/04/2024

During an expedition to ring chicks as part of a long-term research project in the protected region of Monte el Valle y Sierra de Altaona y Escalona in southeastern Spain, a female about 40 days old was spotted in the nest. For the unusual color caused by incomplete albinism, she was named Blanquita. Her feathers were white, but her eyes stood out in bright orange due to the presence of melanin in the iris.

Albinism is usually characterized by a lack of melanin, leading to white feathers and pink or red eyes. The researchers equipped the Blanquita with a VHF radio transmitter to track its movements after leaving the nest.

Alas, after 10 weeks the bird was found dead about 20 km west of the nesting site. Perhaps the cause of death was poisoned rodents that she ate. The fatal meal made the Blanquita itself more vulnerable to predators, especially since its white color aggravated the danger, because this is not the usual camouflage of birds.

Signs of scavenger mammals were found near the dead owl.

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