August 26, 2016
A white crow? In Coimbatore? Is this for real? If you do not believe this, then you are in for a surprise, because there indeed is a white crow flying in Coimbatore, like a ghost among common crows.
Greyish white feathers, pale bill, and pinkish legs of one such white crow residing in the city are certainly lifting some eyebrows. But science says that the crow is one of the rarest of the rare cases of ‘albinism’ in living beings.
According to K. Mohan Raj, a Coimbatore based environmentalist, albinism is caused by the absence of melanin in the skin. “The absence of melanin in the skin leads to absence of colour pigments in the skin. The skin ends up looking pale and white,” he said, adding that the scenario was common in all living beings, including human beings.
He further said that the other extreme of this syndrome is melanistic albinism, where the skin becomes abnormally black. “Such symptoms are found in the melanistic leopards of the Western Ghats,” said Mohan Raj.
A. Sukumar, another environmentalist who has seen and photographed an albino crow near the Singanallur Lake four years ago, said that although such crows are rare, they can be seen every now and then.
“We can spot these birds only when they sit next to a normal black crow. Usually they are shunned by the rest of the crows and are chased away because of their skin tone,” he added. He informed that such crows were also spotted near Maruthamalai and Sitra in Coimbatore.
Some of the animals affected by the syndrome include the white Bengal tigers, white lions, crocodiles, snakes, deer, peafowls, and apes.