Whenever a white bird shows up in a backyard it is a special event. Each year I receive from one to three reports of white ruby-throated hummingbirds appearing in backyards across the state. A few years ago, a close friend photographed a white northern cardinal visiting his feeders. In addition, many years ago a Middle Georgia couple reported a white bluebird nesting in one of their nesting boxes. However, until a few weeks ago I had never been notified of a white northern mockingbird sighting.
As you can see from the accompanying photograph, this bird is almost totally white except for a few black feathers on its wings. The bird’s feet and bill are pinkish white. However, the mockingbird’s eyes are dark.
Ornithologists might argue as to whether this bird displays albinism or leucism. However, I believe this mockingbird is a type of albino. This condition is brought about by the bird lacking any pigment called melanin.
The four types of albinism are true (sometimes referred to as total), incomplete, imperfect and partial.
A true albino’s plumage is totally white whereas its legs, feet, and bill are white to pinkish. A true albino’s eyes are always pink or red. The presence of black feathers in the same areas of both wings, and seemingly dark eyes, leads me to believe this bird is a partial albino.
Albinism has been documented among some 304 species of North American birds. Interestingly, it is most commonly occurs in blackbirds, American robins, crows, and hawks.
If an albino bird shows up in your yard, it will be an experience you will long remember. I have never seen a white bird in my yard, however, several years ago a partial albino hummingbird fed at my neighbors’ feeders. I was sure it would fly over to my feeders. However, for some reason, it never did. To have one come that close to your yard is tough to take. However, I have never given up hope I will see a white bird in my yard. Perhaps one will magically appear this year.