Friday, February 22, 2013

NYC Mutants

     Usually when people hear the word "mutation," it has this sort of negative meaning. People think of something mangled, ugly, or disadvantageous. And while some mutations can cause a disadvantage, mutations can also be a driving force in evolution. Anyway, I'll get off my biology teacherish rant and get to the good stuff!
     This post is about two sparrows that exhibit some unique characteristics that are not the norm for their species. Mutations can occur randomly in any living things DNA, there are all different kinds of mutations and they can sometimes result in some pretty amazing things!
     So, for the last year I have been seeing this neat little house sparrow, usually you don't think much of a house sparrow, I would assume most people have them in a close second to pigeons in birds they could care less about. Well, I love them, and the house sparrow I'm about to introduce is a favorite bird of mine, I see him almost every morning on my way into work, and if not in the morning, he shows up at some point in my day. This little male house sparrow has all white primary feathers (those are like the wing tip feathers) and white border (is that a technical term? Probably not) feathers on his tail. He seems to hold territory in the area and he is such a cool little bird. Being that only his wing tips are white, he is still mostly camouflaged, until he flies and you see this spectacular flash of white. I also found out I'm not his only fan, I even made a friend today who also admires this neat little sparrow, and after this, perhaps he will have a fan club!
     I just learned of another "mutant" around work from some co workers, another white sparrow! This one is a white throated sparrow and it appears to be piebald. "Pied" or "Piebald" is when an animal shows patches of white amongst dark, normal patterned parts of their body (random fact, the "bald" in bald eagle, refers to "piebald" or a patch of white on head and tail). So, this little sparrow definitely qualifies as piebald... in my book at least!
     I hope you enjoy the photo of my two lovely "mutant" feathered friends!
My favorite house sparrow, perched up on a building.
You can see those white primary feathers! Isn't he handsome?
I wonder if the females go nuts for this guy and his fancy wings... he has a cute tush!
I think he nests in the vents right behind him as I've seen him enter and exit them many times.
This is the "piebald" white throated sparrow - cool little thing, right?!
Here is a regular colored white throated sparrow, who was foraging right along with him/her
Piebald tush
Regular tush
While watching him, I did hear a red tail hawk call a few times - I wonder if he knows how much of an easy target he is.
And then as if hearing the red tail hawk wasn't enough, as he foraged in this area, I noticed a pile of feathers probably from a hawk kill. Good luck to you, little sparrow!
I do love that he still has the typical yellow brows - he looks like an angry bird!
     I hope you all keep an eye out when you are doin' your thing. You never know what you'll run into!