Rare 'white blackbird' spotted in Devon garden


A rare albino blackbird has been spotted in a garden in north Devon.

The "white blackbird" was discovered by Devon Wildlife Trust's Jo Pullin in her back garden in Hatherleigh.

"My children and I spotted something unusual in the undergrowth at the edge of our garden," Mrs Pullin said.

"We went to investigate and soon discovered it was a white blackbird. It looked like it had only just recently left the nest.

"I've seen birds with odd colouring before but never a completely white blackbird. It really stood out and looked very vulnerable."

Albinism in birds is not unusual. It is caused when the normal pigmentation of feathers is missing. However, in most cases birds show patches of white feathers or dull colouring.

But what was rare about the case of the Hatherleigh blackbird was that it lacked all colour, even in its eyes.

This condition is much more unusual and is known as being a true albino.

The story of the white blackbird may not have ended well as its unusual looks are likely to have made it more visible to potential predators.

Steve Hussey, from the Devon Wildlife Trust, said: "Being pure white isn't a great survival strategy for a blackbird, particularly as a fledgling.

"When you've just left the nest you want to be as inconspicuous as possible to avoid the predatory eyes of cats and sparrowhawks.

"Added to this, part of the condition of albinos often means they have poor or little eyesight. I fear that this little chap's life was probably a very brief one."

Mrs Pullin added: "We looked for the blackbird the next day but couldn't see it anywhere."