His Name is Cloud

Leucistic red-tailed hawk, named Cloud, at Medina Raptor Center (photo by Kate St. John)

Meet “Cloud,” a leucistic red-tailed hawk at the Medina Raptor Center in Spencer, Ohio.

Cloud is white because there’s no melanin in his feathers, a recessive trait that expresses when both parents pass it on to their offspring.  Cloud is leucistic, not an albino, because he does produce some melanin, shown in his blue eyes (not pink) and yellow legs and cere (not white).

Cloud led a normal life and raised at least one family at a railyard in Ohio until his territorial choice was his undoing.  One day he caught prey on the railroad tracks and did not get out of the way when a train approached.  The train ran over his wing.

His color saved his life.  Because of his beauty he was a favorite with the railyard workers who immediately saw he’d been struck and mobilized volunteers to collect and deliver him to Medina Raptor Center.

Cloud was so badly injured they thought he would die but he fought his way back to health. Unfortunately he will never fly again.  Part of his left wing is missing.

Leucistic red-tailed hawk, back view, at Medina Raptor Center (photo by Kate St. John)

However, he’s now an excellent educational ambassador, teaching people about leucism and the lives of red-tailed hawks.

Thanks to Annette Piechowski at Medina Raptor Center for introducing us to Cloud.  What a beautiful bird!



p.s. Do you know of any leucistic red-tailed hawks in the wild?  I know of one that used to nest on the Hays hillside in Pittsburgh and another near Millers Pond at Pymatuning.

(photos by Kate St. John)

p.p.s.  You can sponsor Cloud and the other educational birds at the Medina Raptor Center. Click here to see.

8 thoughts on “His Name is Cloud

  1. What a beautiful bird! I didn’t know that hawks could have a white form. Sort of the opposite of the black squirrels.

  2. Kate
    As of a couple years ago, there was a leucistic redtail, visible from U. S. RT.30,
    near Bucktown, Somerset Co.

  3. There used to be an albino/leucistic hawk inthe middle of Greene County when I worked down there about 5 years around Maple Run creek. Couple people that lived by said they believed it was female and had had several successful nestings.

    1. There is a key rustic female that I have seen over the past few years near West Greene High School. She is a female with a normal coloration male. I last saw her about three weeks ago. When I first saw her and inquired of the local residents, I was informed that she nests within sight of the school and students have observed her on her nest. I have a couple of photos from my phone but nothing too good. The first time I saw her, I did manage to get under the tree she was in (about 30 feet away) before she flew and we were slow with the phones for a picture. She does have a couple of red tail feathers and she is amazing to see!

  4. For several years there has been a leucistic Red-tailed Hawk near Talorstown in Washington County Pa. I saw it this spring so I expect that it is still there.

  5. Aren’t they wonderful at Medina Kate? I was lucky enough to be able to peek in the cages. You can’t say enough about their dedication.

  6. We have a leucistic red tail hawk in Westminster, Colorado. He lives in the wild at a local golf course. A few years back he was hit by a golf ball and was in a local rehab center, but was released back to the wild where he currently resides. He has coloration in 1 feather in his tail and some feathers on his head. Other than that – he looks like Cloud – brilliant white! Gorgeous Bird!

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