Plants and Animals

Rare All-White Kingfisher Spotted In Ugandan National Park

February 8, 2016 | by Tom Hale

Photo credit: Kevin Sutton and Michelle Sutton/Caters Images

There are around 90 species of kingfisher birds throughout the world, most of which are known for their giant beaks and vibrant colors. However, here's one that is sporting a bit of a different look.

The all-white kingfisher was spotted in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda in November last year. Kevin and Michelle Sutton managed to catch a momentary glimpse of the bird on a river cruise through the park’s Kazinga Channel.

The bird is a malachite kingfisher (Alcedo cristata) – a species of river kingfisher native to sub-Saharan Africa that grows to around 13 centimeters (5.1 inches). Usually, they have similar striking blue and orange coloring to the Eurasian common kingfisher (Alcedo atthis), although they feature a little mohawk of plumage on their heads.

While you could be mistaken for thinking the bird is an albino, it actually has a condition called leucism. This genetic condition causes a reduction in pigments in the animal's cells, causing only certain areas of the body to go white. In birds, it's most common for leucism to only affect pigmentation of the feathers, while the leaving their beak, feet, and eyes their natural color.

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