I live on the south end of the City of Kawartha-Lakes, adjacent to the Ganaraska Forest. We have lots of birds in our gardens but Wednesday evening this yellow Hairy Woodpecker came to one of our feeders. He looks to me like the typical male Hairy Woodpecker except for the yellow colouring.

Observer: Doug Coggan

yellow Hairy Woodpecker (Doug Coggan)

yellow Hairy Woodpecker (Doug Coggan)

Note from Drew Monkman: From what I’ve been able to research on-line, the bird has a condition called xanthochroism. “Xanthochroism is a pigment disorder, as are albinism (lack of pigment) and melanism (excess pigment). In xanthochroistic birds, either there is excessive yellow pigment in the feathers or yellow replaces another color, typically red. Xanthochroism occurs not only in birds, but also in other organisms. It may be caused by dietary deficiencies or a genetic mutation.While fairly rare, the condition is nonetheless reported in a number of species of birds. One in which it is noted nearly annually is the Red-bellied Woodpecker. Because the red color of the head is replaced by a golden yellow, the Red-bellieds are often misidentified as Golden-fronted Woodpeckers. Orange Scarlet Tanagers and Northern Cardinals are also fairly common.” from Julie Craves, Birdwatchingdaily.com June 20, 2003

Drew Monkman

I am a retired teacher, naturalist and writer with a love for all aspects of the natural world, especially as they relate to seasonal change.