Albino bird: a white crow

Yes, this American Crow has all white feathers and pink feet, legs and bill. These are all features of albino birds; however, a full albino bird should have red or pink eyes while this bird’s eyes. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology explains: “Albinism is a genetic mutation that prevents the production of melanin in the body. Albinistic birds have pink eyes because without melanin in the body, the only color in the eyes comes from the blood vessels behind the eyes.”

However, as can be seen in the photo above, the normal American Crows have black bills, legs and feet while those are pink on the white crow. The other genetic defect is called leucism, but it only affects the deposit of melanin in feathers. So this white crow appears to have partial albinism.

I watched this bird as it fed, the perched for awhile, then later as it flew off into the field above to feed some more. All this time the white crow stayed in the company of these normal crows. Though it fed near the others, they did seem to avoid it and would move away when it came near.  The others seemed aware that this white crow was different from them.

You can see that the white crow really stands out both on the ground and as it flies with the other crows. That makes them vulnerable to predation. Though since crows are pretty good sized birds they are not as vulnerable as smaller birds.

You can read here about an albino hummingbird I wrote about on this blog last year.

Have you ever seen an albino or leucistic bird?

  1. Denise Roath says

    I’ve found this article very interesting and wanted to mention that I’ve never had a true Albino at my feeders, but I have had a few Leucistic ones.
    For the past two Springs I’ve had a Leucistic Baltimore Oriole, which was just beautiful and I’m hoping to see it again next spring as well. Although I did get a few pictures, they aren’t the best, but you can tell what it is. A couple years ago, I had a Leucistic Morning dove, which I was also able to get pictures of, but like the others they aren’t the best, but can see what they are. I also had a Luecistic Grackle this past summer and was also able to get pictures of it. There have also been a couple others that have come around with just a couple white feathers that didn’t belong. Needless to say, it’s always exciting to have them visit.

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