Thursday 5 July 2012

Cheeky chappie

I posted this picture and linked to it from twitter, forgetting to put an explanation here. It's an unusual bird I photographed in Holland. Obviously a corvid of some sort, and probably immature, but what is it? The best guess, courtesy of one of my twitter responders, is that it's a leucistic jackdaw, but I've yet to see a really persuasive photo of a similar bird. It was also suggested that it might be an immature hooded crow, but in my 20-plus years of living in and visiting the Netherlands, I never saw a hooded. In fact the first time I did see one, in either Finland or Sweden, I did a double take because it was (to me) such an unfamiliar species.


  1. I did learn some new things trying to find out more, so I apologize for any longwindedness.

    My first assumption is that this is one of the common corvids of the Netherlands and not some rare visitor.

    The colouring pattern seems to indicate one of the possible mutations in the production of melanins. In these mutations the colour is not always stable and whatever is present will be bleached from older feathers.
    This could explain the pattern on the wings, where newly grown (and thus still coloured) feathers could be found in a juvenile.

    So, if that pattern can be explained away the 'hood' seems to indicate this is a Jackdaw. Which does correlate with the cheeky behaviour, of the common corvids here in general the Jackdaw seems to be the tamest.

    For reference a brown jackdaw, a nearly fully bleached Jackdaw (With Dutch accompanying text, sorry).
    A paper explaining the different options in melamine related mutations (pfd , in English).
    The last has an image of a Jay with what looks like a similar mutation, and which does look different from your photo.

    Joris Meijer (@meijerjt)

  2. Thanks, Joris - I think that brown jackdaw picture is the clincher, it does look quite similar and the bird's behaviour was otherwise very typical of jackdaws. We saw the bird on two separate days, by the way, in the same are (Kon Wilhemina Boulevard, Noordwijk).

    I don't mind a bit of Nederlandse, by the way!

  3. looks similar to this:

  4. I am not particular with this bird. I t looks like common birds but the color is different.

  5. I want to raise a complaint: I've run out of your novels to read. That's unacceptable. No more taking photos of birds, please, there's something else you should be doing, really...

    And I'm only half joking... ;)

  6. Yeah, I'm sick of looking at Cheeky Chappie! You better have written like, 100,000 words since, dude!!!!! You see how many exclamation marks I used? Not happy! Hametta may be only half joking, but I'm really, really, really very much half serious!!!! Ok lol then.