Sighting a Rare Leucistic Ring-necked Dove

Ring-necked Doves (Streptopelia capicola) are common birds in our gardens, parks and even in towns in dry country. They are grey in colour, with darker colours on their back, the iconic black feathered collar and black eyes.

Sighting a leucistic Ring necked Dove in the bushes of Ilekunyeti village (2 degrees south and 37 degrees east) in the Amboseli Ecosystem was thrilling. We immediately noticed the grey collar which drew our attention. A few seconds later, it started calling, which ascertained that it’s a Ring-necked Dove. This individual had all white feathers, grey collar and dark eyes.

What are Leucistic birds? – These are birds with a genetic mutation that results in a total or partial reduction of colour in a bird’s feathers. Due to this mutation, pigments are inadequately fixated or fail to be deposited properly in the feathers.

Leucistic birds have a normal coloration of the eyes, bill, legs, and bare parts which make them different from albino birds that totally lack melanin (this is what gives the feathers and eyes their colour). Albino birds are always pure white and have reddish or pink eyes.