25th Jun, 2022

LOOK: Coventry wildlife lover stunned after discovering rare 'Dalmatian' blackbird

Editorial Correspondent 1st Nov, 2018 Updated: 1st Nov, 2018

A WILDLIFE lover was left stunned after discovering a rare blackbird near his home – with distinctive black and WHITE markings.

Twitcher Kim Oliver, 62, pictured the unusual bird rummaging for food in autumn leaves on a footpath near a busy road on last week.

The retired photographer said he has never seen a bird like it in over 50 years of bird watching.

He first spotted it last week while walking near his home in Binley, Coventry, and said it took three visits before the bird started to recognise him and not fly off.

The curious creature became so tame on Kim’s final visit that it hopped over to him so he could capture these amazing images.

Rather than being albino, the blackbird’s striking colourings are believed to be the result of a rare plumage condition called leucism.

Kim said the stunning bird reminded him of a Dalmatian dog and was one of the most unusual he had come across in his five decades of bird watching.

He added: “I have never ever seen, yet alone heard of, this type of blackbird.

“It looks more white than black depending on the angle and it took me three visits to confirm exactly what it was.

“I was just out for a walk when I saw it. I thought ‘what on earth is that?’ It looked like a cross between a pied wagtail and a blackbird.

“It is incredibly striking. Its like a Dalmatian version of a blackbird. I’ve heard of albino birds but these markings were different.

“I believe its very uncommon to see one like this.”

It is not known why the leucism affects blackbirds in this way- but some experts believe it could down to stress, ageing or a genetic disorder.

Ornothologist Paul Stancliffe, from the The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), said: “To see a blackbird with the odd white feather is not that unheard of but the more white you see the more rare it becomes.

“There are only two or three reports a year of white blackbirds, such as this so it is rather uncommon.

“There are several theories as to why leucism occurs but nobody knows for sure.

“Some believe it is triggered by stress, others think it could just be a sign of ageing, like we do, or it could just be a genetic disorder.”

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