Tennessee hunter Cameron Bond found and killed a snow white turkey in Rutherford County. A picture of the hunter holding the white-feathered trophy was uploaded to Twitter by the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency on April 13.
The agency stated that the bird had leucism: a rare condition that causes the animal to lose its pigmentation—not to be confused with albinism.
It is common to see white domesticated turkeys, but not wild ones, according to USA Today.
WHOA! TURKEY OF A LIFETIME!
Cameron Bond of Warren Co, took a leucistic gobbler in Rutherford Co.
Leucism is a loss of pigmentation.
Bond’s bird weighed 20#. It’s beard measured 9 1/2″ beard it’s spurs .75″. #tnwildlife
Find turkey hunting regulations https://t.co/skq0zGyqEc pic.twitter.com/9r2nupjXbL
— TWRA (@tnwildlife) April 13, 2019
In addition to the unusual color, Bond’s turkey weighed 20 pounds and carried a nine inch beard.
Mississippi’s ‘Exceptionally Rare’ Turkey
Nearly one month ago, Hunter Waltman of Kiln, Mississippi, also harvested a wild white turkey, also believed to have leucism. Waltman’s turkey weighed two to three pounds less that Bond’s, and its beard was outmatched by the white bird of Tennessee.
Waltman made the kill on March 16, one day after turkey season opened. The hunter had heard of the black bearded turkey with white spurs, nails, and feathers in the past.
“I’ve been having him on camera all year since back in October,” said Waltman, according to the report. “My neighbor told me about him.”
Waltman told USA Today that his neighbor had seen the nearly-20-pound bird “hanging around for three years.”
Color variations certainly exist among wild turkeys, but what this hunter harvested may be among the most unusual ever taken in Mississippi.
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) March 25, 2019
A fellow Mississippi hunter joined Waltman on the hunt for the turkey, finding the white ball where he was roosting. The hunters waited for the bird to finish.
“We watched him run around with the hens for about two hours and he finally bred them,” he told USA Today. “When he got through with the hens he made a B-line straight to us.”
Waltman was nervous as he was using an unfamiliar gun from his friend to shoot the bird. At about 60 yards away, he was second-guessing his shot, but took the shot anyways. The turkey fell.
“Man, it was awesome,” said the hunter. “I was shaking I was so nervous. It was one of the hardest turkeys I’ve ever killed.”
Genetic Mutations With Differences
Strangely, white featured birds are not always albino. There are distinct differences between albinism and leucism. Listed below are their features, according to Avian Report.
- No Melanin
- Pure White
- Pink, reddish eyes
- Body parts are pale, no color
- Pigment loss only in feathers
- Varying degrees of whitened feathers
- Bare parts of body are white, including eyes and bill
Eastern Screech Owl (leucistic). “Leucism” is a condition in which there is a partial loss of pigmentation in an animal resulting in white, pale or patchy coloration of the feathers, hair, scales etc, but not of the eyes. https://t.co/40MDoX5C49 pic.twitter.com/FulfQYXKJd
— Life on Earth ☘ (@planetepics) April 6, 2019
Besides their unusual appearance, leucistic birds often fall victim to their frosty plumage.
“Most birds rely on their plumage to blend in the habitat they use,” explains Avian Report. “Predators, particularly hawks and falcons are very quick to identify a bird that looks different and will attempt to prey upon it more often than normal.”
Another defect of discolored plumage is its loose structure. According to Avian Report, melanin is an essential part of the feather’s structure, meaning that a less resilient feather will be formed with less melanin.
???? The two white giraffes in Kenya — spotted by rangers at the Hirola Conservation Program in early August2017 — have a genetic condition called leucism. Leucism results in the partial loss of color from an animal’s skin, hair, or scales. ????❤️???? #luvnature pic.twitter.com/jr5FWZeygr
— ????Plathond???? (@luvnature_) March 16, 2019