Tracking the albino pigeon

Which one of these pigeons doesn’t belong?

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been slightly obsessed with an albino pigeon I spotted during the middle of January. Of course at the time I did not have my camera or phone with me since I was out on a walk of the Palms neighborhood (Palms is the oldest community in Los Angeles and just north of Culver City).

After that I spotted it several more times, always when I was driving or walking. And then I started watching pigeons more because I wanted to know, is this common? Are there albino pigeons all over the place and I just never noticed before? Not long after that I was driving in San Pedro and looked up while I was waiting at a stoplight and guess what I saw…an albino pigeon. Since then, I’ve noticed all sorts of strange looking pigeons.

Tan pigeon

Recently, I was waiting at a stoplight in Palms and I saw the albino pigeon again. I quickly drove home, grabbed my camera and rushed back to take a picture. Once I got closer I realized this wasn’t the albino pigeon, but another white pigeon with black feathers speckled throughout its body and on the tail. (See above photo.)

Then another odd looking pigeon landed on an adjacent telephone wire as I was snapping photos. A tan pigeon with amber eyes. Super cool. The tan pigeon kept its distance from the rest of the flock, but the white pigeon with black tail feathers seemed comfortable hanging with the rest of the gang.

It turns out that pigeons are quite fascinating. There is an entire website dedicated to observing pigeons run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology called Project PigeonWatch. According to the website, pigeon experts are able to identify up to 28 color morphs, but to help keep things simple they group pigeons within seven color morphs: blue-bar, red-bar, checker, red, spread, pied and white.

Most of the pigeons in the flock seem to belong to the blue-bar group, which is the color and pattern of the original wild pigeons from Europe, Asia, and Africa. However, the white pigeon with a few black feathers and the tan pigeon with amber eyes don’t seem to belong to any group. But the first albino pigeon I spotted at the beginning of the year definitely belongs to the white morph, it was completely white.

If you are really into pigeons, you can sign up to participate in PigeonWatch and document the pigeons you see. Unfortunately, I haven’t spotted the all-white pigeon in a long time, but I continue to see the white pigeon with black tail feathers. The tan pigeon has also disappeared.

My curiosity about pigeons has made driving in Los Angeles a lot more interesting. Every time I’m waiting at a stoplight I’ll look up and see what pigeons are hanging around. I don’t recommend pigeon watching while driving, definitely wait until you are stopped. Keep your eyes on the road, not the pigeons!

Comments

  1. Judy Hilson says

    Pigeons are not my favorite bird but after reading your article I think I better look around and see what I might be missing. Thanks for sharing

  2. Henry says

    I have had pigeons for years my Indian fan tail has 1 little albino baby pure white pink eyes have never seen this be for. I have several difrant breeds and this is the 1st don’t no but thinking kinda rare.if any one has a y info on albino pigeons please let me no

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