Friday, 19 October 2007

Albino Wildlife

Last night BBC’s ‘One Show’ featured hedgehogs once again. I was busy at the time so asked my daughter to quickly record the programme. Today at lunchtime we watched this film and although we didn’t see the whole programme I was fascinated to see the very young hedgehog that the presenter was holding and even more so the albino one that wildlife presenter Steve Backshall was holding. I found myself researching this a bit more.

Searching the Internet through Google, or any other search engine, can be a bit hit or miss. It always requires a bit of filtering as we all know. However, I did find a few very interesting links that I would like to share. I found photos of two young albino hedgehogs and an adult male albino hedgehog .

However, the most interesting link I found was this one at the Daily Mail which shows photos of other albino animals. Although, I have to say that for some reason looking at these photos made me feel a little uncomfortable. I actually got the shivers looking at the white squirrel and peacock!

At the same time as I was browsing these sites I happened to look out my window and saw a juvenile blackbird. That isn’t exactly unusual, for this time of year, but I have been trying for the last two weeks to get photos of them to show the changing of their feathers from brown to black.


Today however, I managed to get a photo through my window, which you can see above, when I actually had my camera set up to catch the two Wrens I had seen visit earlier! When I uploaded my photos I found the wait was more than worth it. I had more than a photo of a Juvenile. I actually had one of, what looks like to me, a Juvenile Partial Albino Blackbird!

If you look at
the photo closely you can see the white feathers growing in at the top of the head. How weird was that to be searching about albino wildlife at the same time when it is right outside my window!


Hungry Blackbird, video 0:13 with background music, try 480p quality.

Partial Albino Blackbirds, where some feathers grow white instead of black, I have noticed visiting my garden for over a year now. I have video footage of one visit taken in February this year which you can see above.

However, I have found it very difficult to get photos but coincidentally earlier this week I set up my camera inside my back door to get a photo of the Juvenile Blackbirds – guess what I actually got? Yes, a photo of Partial Albino male Blackbird. This is always how it works in my garden when I set up my camera or video camera on my tripod – I get the unexpected! Through the glass the photo, shown below, isn’t as clear as it could be but it still shows how the white feathers are growing on the head of this bird.


Why do white feathers grow on the heads of blackbirds and other birds? Well, this RSPB page shows complete albinism in a Blackbird – again I feel uncomfortable looking at the photo. However, I also found on another of my Birding Links 'British Garden Birds' a detailed description of why the white feathers grow. In this site it reads:
Albinism is usually a genetic condition that causes the absence of pigment, but may also be caused through malnutrition, parasites or injuries. A common belief was that too much white bread was the cause of albinism, but this is not the case. Albinism of varying degrees is quite common in

I would definitely agree that Blackbirds can have this in varying degrees as I have definitely seen at least three different Partial Albino Blackbirds visit my garden – the patterns of white feathers are different in them all. They don’t get white bread in my garden either. I would really like to get some good photos of them but for today I am absolutely delighted with the photo of the Juvenile through my window!

The photos above were taken in my garden on October 16th & 19th 2007. The video above was taken in my garden on February 18th 2007.


10 comments:

Layanee said...

Shirl, I love your hedgehog info. They are unique little creatures! I have never seen an albino anything except in pictures. There is something compelling about them isn't there. As for the blackbird shot, good job! He looks as though he is six inches from your lens.

shirl said...

Hi there, Layanne :-)

I am delighted that you enjoyed the hedgehog info. They are quite special. The albino one in the programme was not fully albino - it was more of a very light honey brown! I wish I had found a photo of that one :-D

I was thrilled with the blackbird shot. It was about 6ft away but with a zoom lens and cropping it does look very close :-)

Robin's Nesting Place said...

Shirl, your patience definitely paid off. I get so excited too when I am able to get a good picture of my animals and the limited wildlife around my yard. It is challenging, fun and rewarding. Great job!

shirl said...

Hi there, Robin

Thank-you! Yep, I think the bigger the challenge the more fun it is :-D

I had my video set up outside last night trying to see if any birds are using the roosting pockets I put up in my Ivy last November. No joy yet - but I did see two tiny wrens in this area at the weekend and I have tried this a few times since then :-)

Crafty Green Poet said...

That's a really interesting post. I recently saw a partial albino crow, very odd. I've seen a couple of partial albino blackbirds.

shirl said...

Hi again, Crafty Green Poet :-)

Thank-you – I enjoyed writing this post. I have seen a number of partial albino Blackbirds visit my garden in the last 18 months.

Since this post I have seen another Juvenile Blackbird showing white feathers beginning to grow at the side of the head this time. I have heard about albino crows but it is strange to see birds that you associate with one colour having such unusual markings.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Just to let you know we saw an albino (or possibly anon-albino white) squirrel recently. There are both albino and variant white squirrels around near here

shirl said...

Hi again, Juliet :-)

Funnily enough it was in Edinburgh where I saw my first grey squirrel - not at the Botanical gardens but I have also seen a fair few there too :-D

I have never seen partial or fully albino squirrels but you could take a guess that some must be living in the Botanical Gardens and maybe they are visiting you from there :-D

stevie said...

i took a photo of what looks like some sort of albino rook today. its very light brown. ive been seeing it around for years. strange looking thing

shirl said...

Hi there, Stevie :-)

A light brown rook – now that does sound strange I agree! Perhaps your local RSPB would be interested in seeing your photos especially if it has been around for some time. Maybe it has had broods with a similar colour :-D