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Rare albino starling spotted

The odd couple - rare white starling and normal companion
The odd couple - rare white starling and normal companion

A rare white starling has been spotted in a Margate garden.

Thanet Extra reader Zoe Reeves, who lives in Summerfield Road, Palm Bay, looked out of her kitchen window one day to see the albino bird in her garden looking for food with another normal coloured brown starling. She rushed to get her camera and took a series of photos before the pair flew away.

Zoe said: “I’ve never seen anything like this before so I was intrigued to know how rare white starlings might be. I looked it up on the internet and found only two other pictures.

“The bird was in the garden for only a few minutes, and I haven’t seen it since. I think it might be nesting in trees nearby. I’ve been putting out food hoping it might come back, but the seagulls get there first.”

Adrian Thomas, of the Royal Society for Protection of Birds, said: “All white starlings are a real rarity. We would probably see more of them, but because they look so different and obvious, they are a target for predators. That this one has made it to flying stage suggests it is a bit of a survivor.

“Birds which have the 'wrong’ plumage are great because they are one of the few opportunities people have to follow the fortunes of a recognisable individual.

“There are all sorts of variants possible, from all-dark birds (melanistic) to all yellow (xanthistic) to birds which look 'washed out’ (leucistic) to part or all-white (partial or complete albinos), like the starling. It’s a genetic thing, requiring two parents with the albino gene to pair up, and has been recorded in all sorts of birds.”

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