20:09 20 April 2016
A rare albino blackbird has been spotted at Hatherleigh.
The ‘white blackbird’ was discovered by Devon Wildlife Trust’s Jo Pullin in her back garden. Jo, who has worked for the conservation charity for 14 years, said: “My children and I spotted something unusual in the undergrowth at the edge of our garden. 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.”
The trust said 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. It belonged to a condition which is much more unusual and is known as being a true albino.
The story of the white blackbird may not have ended well. Its unusual looks may have meant it lived a short life. Steve Hussey from 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.