Sighting: Leucistic Blackbird

I came across this handsome male blackbird quite by accident in town a few days ago, I just happened to have my camera on me at the time. Unfortunately I was only able to capture one photo before other pedestrians sent him scattering.


As you can see he has a patch of pure white feathers among the uniform black, not what you would usually expect from a blackbird.

These abnormal feathers are caused by an inherited condition called leucism, where some of the feathers lack melanin pigments, causing them to appear white. This individual bird is only mildly affected, whilst others may have significant areas of white feathers or may even be totally white which can cause them to be at increased risk of predation.

A survey carried out by the BTO-British Trust for Ornithology indicates that the blackbird is the most commonly affected of our garden birds, making up 40% of the recorded sightings. Also widely affected are house sparrows and several members of the crow family including the jackdaw and carrion crow, both of which I have also seen here.

Read more about leucism and other plumage abnormalities here:

All photographs copyright of Claire Stott/Grey Feather Photography 2016 ©

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