Birds of an Entirely Different Feather

When my niece and nephew were teenagers, their public high school did not allow kids to dye their hair different colors. This always struck me as absurd. How was it hurting anybody? That, and kids that age are seeking self-expression, so they can learn who they are. Take away healthy outlets for that instinct, and it may just come out in other, less desirable ways.

I have always been drawn to the unique. I am fascinated by people who march to the beat of a different drummer. And I have nothing but admiration for those who are different through no choice of their own, and yet still manage to cope, and even thrive, in a world where so many of us try so hard not to stand out. (I even blogged about a solid black penguin at one point.)

Recently, I heard a few other stories from the natural world that fascinated me.

The first was about a snake with three perfectly functional eyes discovered in Australia. The third eye was at the top of its head. I wonder what sight must have been like for this creature. I mean, we have depth perception because we have two eyes. What did it have?

And then, I was listening to Bird Note on NPR on my Friday morning commute, as I do every week, and I learned about leucism (Pronounced LUKE-ism.) Unlike Albinism, which results in a problem producing melanin, which causes white hair, fur, or feathers, and quite often pink skin and eyes, Leucism is a condition that prevents pigments from reaching some parts of the fur or feathers, but the eyes, lips, and beaks remain standard. Some animals with leucism have only patchy white spots. In others it is more evenly distributed, but quite often a washed out version of their coloring pattern will remain.

Bird Note, naturally, only discussed leucism in birds, but upon further reading, I’ve come to learn that it occurs in all sorts of other animals as well. Giraffes. Snakes, Squirrels. Buffalo. Fish. Lions and tigers and bears. (Oh, my!)

I think the reason I’m drawn to these special traits is that, while I look like your average person, I’ve spent my whole life feeling as though I was the odd person out. The fact that you can be odd and still live your life is encouraging to me.

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2 thoughts on “Birds of an Entirely Different Feather

  1. Angiportus Librarysaver

    In Mt Vernon and Bellingham there are black squirrels. Both just dark brown ones and some as black as an LP, if you remember those. There have also been white deer.
    Nature did not give mammals a big choice of different colors, unlike birds. More’s the pity. Many years back I saw some Asian bird at the zoo with a whole bunch of different colors, and one time elsewhere there was a feral rooster that was quite spectacular.
    Agree 100% about diversity and expression.

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