Avian Keratin Disorder



This phenomenon was noticed on a large-scale in Black-capped Chickadees in Southcentral Alaska in the late 1990s. Dr. Colleen Handel began to research the issue in 1999. It is now believed that about 6.5% of the Black-capped Chickadee population in Alaska has the deformity. This is the highest concentration of such a severe abnormality ever recorded in a wild bird population! Although it was first noticed in Black-capped Chickadees, the deformity has now been reported in at least 30 Alaskan bird species. Nearly all are year-round residents and the geographic extent appears to be growing. There have also been reports from the Yukon Territory, British Columbia and Washington. Researchers suspect that the factor(s) responsible may be unique to Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. The cause is still unknown. Researchers continue to investigate: environmental contaminants, nutritional deficiencies, bacterial, viral, and fungal infections, parasites, and genetic abnormalities.  For more information visit the Alaska Science Center.

Have you seen a bird with a deformed bill? Please help Alaskan scientists track this phenomenon.

Follow this link to REPORT YOUR SIGHTING.