An aberrant European Robin found recently in Chivenor, Devon by Martin Bond lacks most of its pigmentation leaving it with a white-breast...............................


The bird's plumage is extremely striking, lacking any sort of warmth to give a spectral, grey-and-white appearance that would no doubt have many birders' heart rates soaring at first. Interestingly, subsequent research has revealed that several similar individuals have been noted in Britain over the past decade. These include the particularly ghostly individual photographed at South Cave, E Yorks, in April 2007, and another trapped and ringed at St Margaret's at Cliffe, Kent, on 5 September 2004.


photos taken by Martin Bond, Chivenor, Devon on 28th November 2015

For an explanation of this unusual sighting read below:

Hein van Grouw, Senior Curator at the Natural History Museum, Tring, commented:

"The pale colour of this Robin is the result of a mutation which causes the dilution of both pigments (eumelanin and phaeomelanin; Robins do not have carotenoids), so it is not leucism as suggested in the photo captions. The phaeomelanin seems to be diluted stronger than the eumalenin, but is not fully absent as the forehead and breast still have a pale, cream colour.
Robins with this colour are seen more in Britain, so clearly the gene for this type of dilution is present in the Robin population. I have even seen evidence that they do breed with normal-coloured individuals, so perhaps the orange breast colour in Robins is not so important in the mating process after all…
I often call the dilution of both pigments 'Dilution Pastel', while the reduction of eumelanin only I call 'Dilution Isabel'. You can read my paper in British Birds for more information on this and other colour aberrations."