ASK AN EXPERT: Why does this tui have unusually fluffy collar feathers?
Mike Creed asks: Two Tui have been visiting our feeder over the past couple of days. They are very noticeable because of their unusually fluffy collar feathers. Are these old birds? Do the collar feathers normally develop like that? They seem to be a couple. Any info would be appreciated!
Colin Miskelly from Te Papa says:
These do not look like normal tui, and are both probably partially leucistic. Both of them are young birds (as evident from the dull body plumage, lack of iridescence, plus small throat tufts, and absence of fine white filoplumes around the neck and nape). As they both have similar, aberrant plumage, it is likely that they have the same parents. This could mean that there is an unusually coloured adult tui around, or it could be that both parents are normally coloured but both carry the same recessive gene.
Colin is the Curator of Terrestrial Vertebrates at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa at Te Papa.
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