BHUBANESWAR: The world's lone aberrant gray-headed swamphen has been spotted at Mangalajodi in Chilika lake. The abnormally coloured bird displays an almost all-white plumage with normal-colored eyes. The abnormality has been affected due to a genetic dilution, researchers said.
The observation of the diluted gray-headed swamphen has been published in the international journal 'Wilson Journal of Ornithology' as an online early article as the "first report of diluted plumage in gray-headed swamphen (Porphyrio poliocephalus) and a review of color aberrations in swamphens".
The bird species inhabits large marshes and reed beds bordering lakes. This large hen-sized bird (45-50 cm) is normally purplish-blue in coloration, and has a large red bill, red frontal shield, and white undertail covers.
A three-member research team that has identified the spectacular white bird includes honorary wildlife warden of Khurda Subhendu Mallik, associate professor of Architecture in Sri Sri University Shakti Nanda and assistant conservator of forests, Angul, Asutosh Mallik.
According to the researchers, some color aberrations has been observed in Indian birds. However, no aberration has yet been recorded in the gray-headed swamphen, although it is a common resident bird throughout India.
Subhendu said the article by them is first case of 'almost all-white dilute plumage' in the gray-headed swamphen. The aberrant bird was photographed by Shakti Nanda who posted it on Facebook. Owing to difficulties in sorting, its proper identification couldn’t be made for more than a year. However, the researchers decided to study it after which they came to know about its uniqueness.