It’s no secret that small-sized birds are always among the cutest creatures in this world, but some birds could be even cuter than others thanks to a lovely coat that helps them stand out from the crowd. This charming white tauhou is a fascinating example. Spotted right in the capital of New Zealand, Rēmana (which is Te Reo Māori transliteration for “lemon”) is proof that good things still happen during this horrible pandemic.
Normally people don’t often see these timid critters on the busy streets, but thanks to the lockdown, photographer Holly Neill had the opportunity to catch a glimpse of this stunning birdie right in her neighborhood – which is located very close to the CBD.
Neill was literally wowed by the bird’s incredible charm, but it wasn’t until a week later that she was finally able to catch it on her camera.
“I met this incredible leucistic tauhou (waxeye) today! To say I was excited to see this super rare bird is an understatement,” the photographer happily shared on her Instagram.
“Last week I’d spotted this amazing tauhou from a distance but didn’t have my camera on me,” she continued. “Since then, I’ve been taking my camera with me on every early morning walk around the block (my ‘commute’ to work, which is now at home) and today it paid off! I spotted this epic bird just 500m from my house.”
For her followers to fully understand how special Rēmana was, Neill didn’t forget to explain further what she knew about leucism and how it differed from albinism.
“Leucism is a genetic mutation that prevents pigmentation (especially melanin) from existing in the bird’s feathers,” Neill wrote. “Leucism is different to albinism as it only affects the bird’s feathers, and can cause some feathers to be brightly colored – in this case it’s yellow. Albinism on the other hand affects all pigment, including the eyes.
Even though the tauhou is pretty common in New Zealand, a leucistic one like Rēmana is definitely not common at all so it’s safe to say such encounter was truly a gift from heaven for a photographer specializing in birds like Neill, not to mention the fact that it was an adult bird is already impressive enough since leucistic birds are preyed upon because of their prominent plumage.
Thankfully, it wasn’t their last meeting and Neill still had chances to snap this stunning birdie a few more times later. Of course, she was still extremely happy to share these lovely photos with her fans.
The tauhou (aka the silvereye or wax-eye) is native to Australia, New Zealand and many southwest Pacific islands. It is an endearing birth with olive-green upperparts and yellow or grey throat and belly.
Like other members of the family Zosteropidae, this bird measures only about 4 – 5 inches (11 – 13 cm) in length and weighs 0.35 oz (10 g). First recorded in 1832, it is now a protected species in New Zealand alongside many other beautiful creatures there.
H/T: Son Yaz