White Cranes

Worldwide are two crane species with almost complete white plumage. The Siberian Crane (Leucogeranus leucogeranus) and the Whooping Crane (Grus americana). However, their distribution is in Asia and Nordamerica. Therefore, it is very rare to see a white crane in Europe. This young crane is currently in France and is definitely an Eurasian Crane (G. grus).

This phenomenon is called leucism. A mutation causes the absence of melanocytes and therefore the absence of dark pigments. In comparison to albinism, where melanocytes are present but not capable of producing melanin (dark pigments), eyes and bill have the normal coloration. Furthermore, leucism can affect only parts of the body creating white patches in the plumage.

Usually, leucism is not harmful to the animal. Only the risk of predation increases due to the reduced ability to hide in the nature. It is commonly observed that the white individuals are therefore excluded from the group.

However, the white crane from France appears to be all right. Even his conspecifics are not disturbed by his remarkable plumage.  

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© Crane Conservation Germany 2017-2019

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