White Tips in Flight – We were so happy to meet “White Tips” again this year. We photographed this beautiful bird in 2010 on the Chilkoot River and were happy to see it on the Chilkat River this year. This unique eagle is very identifiable due to leucism that causes its wing tips and talons to be white instead of dark.
Leucism is another genetic condition which is very closely related to albinism. Leucism causes an absence of all skin pigments, not just melanin. Leucism is caused by a mutation in the c-kit, mitf, or EDNRB genes. Just like albinism, the effect of leucism is to drain all color from a creature. Oddly enough, leucism will not affect yellow hues.
The condition can appear in many sorts of animals, including birds, fish, and reptiles. In birds, leucism can manifest either partially or completely. A completely leucistic bald eagle would have pure white plumage. An eagle with partial leucism can be described as pied or piebald, and has patches of white coloring.
Stock Image #20111108-133700F