Albino jackdaw has birdwatchers twitching with excitement

August 11, 2010 | by | 0 Comments

Birdwatchers are flocking to a rural beauty spot to catch a glimpse of this rare albino jackdaw.

Author Andrew Collins was stunned to see the pure white bird, which has a pink beak, happily nesting among its jet black counterparts.

Andrew, 53, was the first to picture the bird when he was out walking in Avebury, near Marlborough, Wilts., last month.

Since then, he says the bird has become something of a local celebrity as birdwatchers rush to the area to see the unusual bird, which has been named Jackie by locals.

Andrew said: ”I first saw it on July 11.

”It was individually seen and verified by a bird watcher on that first day. It is still there and apparently lives in Avebury.

”I have been on the internet and incidences of albino jackdaws are very rare indeed. It is a true albino. It has a translucent bill and pink eyes.

”We have named the bird Jackie, which can be either male or female, while Jackies is the name given to people from nearby Upavon because of the village’s association with the jackdaws that live in and around the churchyard.”

Albinism is a recessive characteristic which only shows up when a bird inherits the albino gene from both parents.

There are different degrees of albinism, ranging from all white to only a few white feathers on an otherwise normal coloured bird.

The unusual albino characteristics often make smaller birds a target from rivals, although experts believe the size of the jackdaw could mean it lives a ”normal life.”

Andrew added: ”Things are all right at the moment. The other birds seem to accept him without any problem.

”But food is plentiful at the moment. What happens when things get more difficult is another matter.

”Birds often attack weaker birds under those circumstances, and albinism is a sign of weakness.”

RSPB spokesman Grahame Madge described the bird as ”fascinating”.

He added: ”It is reasonably common to see black birds, like crows and blackbirds, with some white in their plumage but true albinos, like this jackdaw, are rare.

”They can also be quite difficult to identify because birdwatchers are robbed of the normal visual clues, such as the bird’s distinctive black plumage, relieved by the grey neck and black ‘hangman’s’ mask.

”Having no pigment, albino birds are often a target for predators because they are more easily targeted than normally-coloured ones.

”However, larger birds, such as jackdaws, will have fewer predators, so this bird may be a little more secure and could lead a near normal existence.”

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