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Pink magpie (1 Viewer)

jerry12953

Well-known member
This was first reported by a non-birder as a rosy starling. As I was in the area I thought I'd go and take a look. Imagine my surprise when I saw this!

My first view was against bright sunlight and the whole bird appeared to be glowing red. In normal light it appeared to be a bright pink and black bird, but in the photo you can see that it is iridescing blue as normal on its (?) secondaries, but I think there's a hint that other areas are showing a red iridescence. There have been suggestions that industrial chemicals may have been involved but it's really not that type of area (rural Pembrokeshire).

Any ideas what could have caused it?

_04A6895.jpg
 

jerry12953

Well-known member
From the length of the tail, it must have been a juvenile. Maybe its parents had been feeding it beetroot.......

There was a case in the North-east about ten years ago apparently where somebody had been die-ing magpies pink but in St Davids ..... not that sort of place really.
 

jerry12953

Well-known member
Thanks very much for that Silverwolf.

Assuming that it was not due to malicious or unintentional human interference, it must be erythrism.

Erythrism is described as a

" congenital condition of abnormal redness in an animal’s fur, plumage, or skin."

The owner of the garden where the bird was found has not not noticed anything like this before so presumably the parents were not erythritic.
 

Silverwolf

Well-known member
Erythrism assumes there is the potential for red pigment to begin with. Usually, with an area that is white, there is no pigment at all which means erythrism is not possible.

For it to be erythrism there would have be past ancestors which had red pigment on these white areas, which was then suppressed in future evolution.

That is assuming that white pigments cannot be "flooded" by new pigment types. For instance a bird that is usually white turning red or yellow because of "new" pigmentation. As far as I know this scenario is no more than mythological, but I may be wrong.

edit: To solve the mystery we'd need one of the pink feathers to analyze in a lab. If it's a local bird, keep an eye out!
 
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jerry12953

Well-known member
Erythrism assumes there is the potential for red pigment to begin with. Usually, with an area that is white, there is no pigment at all which means erythrism is not possible.

For it to be erythrism there would have be past ancestors which had red pigment on these white areas, which was then suppressed in future evolution.

That is assuming that white pigments cannot be "flooded" by new pigment types. For instance a bird that is usually white turning red or yellow because of "new" pigmentation. As far as I know this scenario is no more than mythological, but I may be wrong.

edit: To solve the mystery we'd need one of the pink feathers to analyze in a lab. If it's a local bird, keep an eye out!

Good idea. Unfortunately its not local to me but I could put the word out on the Pembs bird blog in the hope that the property owners see something.

But I can't help thinking, bearing in mind the previous cases, why magpies, and why pink?
 

Silverwolf

Well-known member
Genetic conditions can be recurring. Genetic mutations are very rare and very random, but sometimes events play out perfectly. The only way for identical genetic conditions to appear multiple times is if a "copy" of that genetic mutation is passed to offspring, and then to their offspring, and so on. That means that not only can offspring randomly "create" this genetic mutation, but they can also then receive it from their parents, which gives them a second chance. But the chance of passing to offspring is not high, and pink magpies can be killed before they breed, etc.

It's a long topic but basically, sometimes, just because of random probabilities, a very rare condition can be repeated. The more it repeats in a species, the more likely it is to repeat again in future. Eventually you turn birds that are 1 in 100,000 to 1 in 10,000. Some species have as many as 1 in 10 individuals affected by a prominent genetic condition that is usually extraordinarily rare. It is all very random.

That's all assuming this is erythrism.
 

Eric1*

Member
United Kingdom
This was first reported by a non-birder as a rosy starling. As I was in the area I thought I'd go and take a look. Imagine my surprise when I saw this!

My first view was against bright sunlight and the whole bird appeared to be glowing red. In normal light it appeared to be a bright pink and black bird, but in the photo you can see that it is iridescing blue as normal on its (?) secondaries, but I think there's a hint that other areas are showing a red iridescence. There have been suggestions that industrial chemicals may have been involved but it's really not that type of area (rural Pembrokeshire).

Any ideas what could have caused it?

View attachment 587812
I have pictures of a Magpie Fledgling with a lot of Pink instead of white. They were taken today actually. The bird has been around for a couple of days, popping in and out every so often for bite to eat. Would you like to see it ?
 

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