Not Always Black and White: Colour Aberrations in the Dovekie

  • Dariusz Jakubas
  • Katarzyna Wojczulanis-Jakubas
Keywords: dovekie, colour aberrations, albinism, “brown” mutation, leg depigmentation


We describe four records of colour aberrations in the dovekie (Alle alle). During six years of studies of breeding ecology in two large dovekie colonies in West Spitsbergen, we recorded one albino chick (white feathers, red eyes, pinkish legs and feet), one adult or subadult with a “brown” aberration (all black parts turned dark brown), one adult in a typical summer plumage with depigmented (pinkish) legs and feet, and one chick in a typical plumage, but with whitish feathers on back and wing coverts. Albinism and “brown” mutations are heritable traits. The two remaining colour aberrations probably have been acquired and might have been caused by disease, malnutrition, or other unknown factors.