Ghost junco

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Isn’t he beautiful? He was caught in the hills in Marin County, not all that far from me, and kept in captivity until he died in 1931.

You might think he’s purely colorless at first glance, but he isn’t. He’s more blue-silver than white, an incredible color to come shining out of a drawer of junco specimens when you’ve just spent the last few weeks measuring the same brown-and-black birds over and over. When you look close you find that hidden in those pale feathers are the whispers of normal junco coloration.

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Adoption in birds (really!)

Sometimes the titles of scientific papers are so surprising that they seem to transform into news headlines in my head:

Adoption of chicks by the Pied Avocet – Adoption of fledglings by Black and Red Kites – Caspian Terns fledge a Ring-billed Gull chick – Adoption of young Common Buzzards by White-tailed Sea Eagles

How can this be true? Raising chicks is hard; it takes energy and time and risk. Why would any bird make those sacrifices for an unrelated chick?

Okay, I would absolutely adopt this guy. Pied Avocet chick. Photo by Keith Marshall

Okay, I would absolutely adopt this guy.
Pied Avocet chick. Photo by Keith Marshall

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