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Melanistic House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)

Posted by on Dec 28, 2014

This is one House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) I have never seen before! I took these shots last weekend, the bird being part of a group of well over 100 House Sparrows. The photos are very true to real life appearance and have not been heavily edited. Do you know why it is so dark? It appears to be melanistic which means that the dark-colored pigment melanin in the feathers was produced at higher than normal levels creating an abnormal color. The opposite is known as leucism where pigments are produced at less than normal levels or in an unexpected pattern. Melanism in small songbirds is rare in my experience, having seen more cases of leucistic individuals.

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) melanistic Christmas Bird Count Stratford 2014 -0247

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) melanistic Christmas Bird Count Stratford 2014 -0250

House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) melanistic Christmas Bird Count Stratford 2014 -0251

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator