October 30, 2023
A Rare Sight
- as seen by -Martin Brogger @tinchobrogger
Magellanic penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus) do not typically have all white feathers. However, there is a rare genetic condition called leucism that can cause individual penguins to have white or pale-colored feathers. Leucism is a genetic mutation that affects the production of melanin, the pigment responsible for coloration in feathers and other body parts.
Penguins with leucism may have varying degrees of white or pale-colored feathers, but their eyes and bills will still have their normal pigmentation. This can make them stand out from other penguins in their colony, which in some cases can make it more difficult for them to find a mate or to avoid predators.
This particular Magellanic penguin is a female that breeds on the Valdés Peninsula, in northern Patagonia, Argentina. By chance, during a colony survey, I found her resting and caring for her two eggs. After taking some pictures, I left her alone feeling very happy about her successful mating.