Novel plumage aberrations in Paraguayan non-Passerine Birds, and the definition of a new plumage aberration unique to Psittacidae

  • Paul Smith FAUNA Paraguay, Encarnación, Dpto. Itapúa, Paraguay ( Para La Tierra, Centro IDEAL, Mariscal Estigarribia 321 c/ Tte. Capurro, Pilar, Dpto. Ñeembucú, Paraguay (
  • Sergio D. Ríos Departamento de Arqueología y Paleontología, Secretaría Nacional de Cultura, Asunción, Paraguay. Museo Nacional de Historia Natural del Paraguay, San Lorenzo, Paraguay.


Anomalous plumage colourations are reported for three species of non-passerine birds from Paraguay, Limpkin (Aramaus guarauna; Aramidae), Nanday Parakeet (Nandayus nenday; Psittacidae), and the Little Woodpecker (Veniliornis passerinus; Picidae). A leucistic Limpkin is the first published report of a colour anomaly for the family Aramidae. The colour aberration in N. nenday is hypothesised to be a result of an excess of red psittacofulvin pigments, which are unique to the Psittacidae. Although the mechanisms causing this colour aberration remain unknown, we suggest the term psittacofulvism for the phenotypic effect observed.


Burtt Jr, E.H., Schroeder, M.R., Smith, L.A., Sroka, J.E., McGraw, K.J. 2010. Colourful parrot feathers resist bacterial degradation. Biology Letters 7: 214-216.

Bryan, D.C. 2002. Limpkin (Aramus guarauna) The Birds of North America, No. 627, In: Poole, A. Gill, F. (Eds.).The Birds of North America. Philadelphia, USA. doi: 10.2173/bna.627

Dorst, J. 1971. The life of birds, Volume 1. Weidenfield and Nicholson. London, UK.

Etchegaray, A.M., Benítez Riveros, C., Galluppi Selich, T., Irala Melgarejo, R., Rojas Barrios, S., Ruíz López, R. 2016. Aberración cromática en el Cardenal común (Paroaria coronata) en Paraguay. Nuestras Aves 61: 55-56.

Fox, H.M., Vevers, G. 1960. The nature of animal colours. Macmillan, New York, USA.

Gonçalves Junior, C.C., Da Silva, E.A., De Luca, A.C., Pongiluppi, T., De Barros Molina, F. 2008. Record of a leucistic Rufous-bellied Thrush Turdus rufiventris (Passeriformes, Turdidae) in São Paulo city, Southeastern Brazil. Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia 16: 72-75.

Gross, A.O. 1965. The incidence of albinism in North American birds. Bird-Banding 36: 67‑71.

Harris, R.D. 1983. Albinistic Red-breasted Sapsucker. Western Birds 14: 168.

Harrison, C.J.O. 1963. Non-melanic, carotenistic and allied variant plumages in birds. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club 83: 90-96.

Harrison, C.J.O. 1985. Plumage, abnormal, In: Campbell, B. Lack, E. (Eds.). A Dictionary of Birds. Staffordshire, England. pp. 472-474.

Hosner, P.A., Lebbin, D.J. 2006. Observations of plumage pigment aberrations of birds in Ecuador, including Ramphastidae. Boletín de la Sociedad Antioqueña de Ornitología 16: 30-43.

Insfrán, F.R. 1931. Un caso raro de albinismo en la especie Crotophaga ani L. Anó moroti. Revista de la Sociedad Científica del Paraguay 31(1): 33.

McGraw, K.J., Nogare, M.C. 2004. Carotenoid pigments and the selectivity of psittacofulvin-based coloration systems in parrots. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part B 138: 229-233.

McGraw, K.J., Nogare M.C. 2005. Distribution of unique red feather pigments in parrots. Biology Letters 1: 38-43.

Møller, A.P., Mousseau, T.A. 2001. Albinism and phenotype of Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) from Chernobyl. Evolution 55: 2097‑2104.

Nero, R.W. 1954. Plumage aberrations of the redwing Agelaius phoeniceus. The Auk 71: 137-155.

Rensch, B. 1925. Die Farberaberration der Vogel. Journal für Ornithologie 73: 514-539.

SACC. 2017. Checklist of the birds of South America. Consulted online January 2017.

Sage, B. L. 1963. The incidence of albinism and melanism in British birds. British Birds 56: 409‑416.

Smith, P. 2016. Striking plumage anomalies in two Tyrannidae (Passeriformes): Vermilion Flycatcher Pyrocephalus rubinus and Tropical Pewee Contopus cinereus from Paraguay. Ornithologia 9: 27-29.

Stradi, R., Pini, E., Celetano, G. 2001. The chemical structure of the pigments in Ara macao plumage. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part B 130: 57-63.

Teixeira, D.M. 1985. Plumagens aberrantes em Psittacidae Neotropicais. Revista Brasileira de Biologia 45: 143-148.

Van Grouw, H. 2006. Not every white bird is an albino: sense and nonsense about colour aberrations in birds. Dutch Birding 28: 79‑89.

Withgott, J.H., McMahon, J.A. 1993. Conspecific harassment of a leucistic Barn Swallow. Bulletin of the Oklahoma Ornithological Society 26: 38‑39.

Zapata, A.R.P., Novatti, R. 1979. Aves albinas en la colección del Museo de la Plata. El Hornero 12: 1-10.
How to Cite
Smith, P.; Ríos, S. D. Novel Plumage Aberrations in Paraguayan Non-Passerine Birds, and the Definition of a New Plumage Aberration Unique to Psittacidae. BNH 2017, 3, 24-28.
Research Articles