Reasons for birds with white feathers

Because, since January 2008,  I’ve been seeing a blackbird with white tail feathers I’ve become interested in them and have found out some  details and of the reasons why this happens.

The name for a bird with white feathers  is ‘albino’.  Partial albino means a bird  has some white feathers on some portions of its body.

Often other birds do not like birds that are different to them and birds will kill a bird like this (this could be why I never see this white tailed blackbird  in among a group of blackbirds)

Here are some reasons why blackbirds  (and other birds ) sometime have white feathers :

  • Lack of a good diet 
  • Injury to the bird can cause this
  • Circulary problems that the bird has had at the time that its feathers were developing.
  • The bird is ageing and old.
  • Some of the feathers do not have  pigments such as melanins.

A bird that is naturally white such as a swan, is not classed as an albino bird

If you have any other information please let me know.

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21 thoughts on “Reasons for birds with white feathers

  1. Pingback: BLACKBIRD FACT SHEET | Bird Table News

  2. Josh

    Actually the correct term for this is called leusistic. Albino is when the animal is completely white and often accompanied by red eyes, because of the lack of pigment. In the case of this bird, I think it is just a bird with a tail feather or two lacking pigmentation. Similar to humans who have a spot in their hair that lack pigmentation and the hair there is white.

  3. james michel

    I took a picture of a black bird with a perfect white tail in my back yard , it was with other black birds feeding on the ground bellow the feeder.
    No fight with those black birds and the white tail for at least
    ten minutes,they flew away together.

  4. Judy

    We live in Owensboro, Ky. and have a black bird with one white feather in his tail, he looks fully grown but another black bird (smaller) often feeds him worms. We have also been curious about this bird around our feeders.

  5. Ned Rozbicki

    Took a few decent photos today of a crow with it’s outermost two tail-feathers completely white. Could not catch a photo of him in flight, but have several sitting. He was clearly a crow. With a large group of crows. Location. Haines, Alaska. Happy to forward photos to anyone interested.

  6. Pingback: Photographs of a White Tailed Crow in Alaska | Bird Table News

  7. tracy

    We have good photos of a bird that landed in our backyard today. It looks like a blackbird and walks like a blackbird but it has white patches on the tips of both wings and its tail feathers are white. Its head is black and its body is dark brown/black.

  8. Marilyn Eddy

    Hi,
    I’ve noticed several crows where I live in Plymouth, Devon that have some white feathers in their plumage.
    Regards
    Maz

  9. Trish Post author

    I wonder if this is because of the bad winter we had. They may have found it hard to get food and lack of a good diet may have caused it. It’s a thought.

  10. Dianna Latham

    is trying to get me to the window asap so I can see these birds he’s seeing. I was too late. when he describes it to me I am wondering if he’s O K, as he has C.O.P.D. It was a lg.black bird with 2 very long white tail feathers, being chased by a solid black bird. As I have lived in Ohio most of my life,he from the south; I had to find out if such a bird exists.After much searching,I found this site. Just letting everyone know it,s here also. Hope he comes back so I can get a picture!

  11. Conrad Kleveno

    I had a visit by a bird the shape and size of a blackbird bird at our birdbath. The color was very distinguished. Black head and body except for an all white tail, white band around it’s neck and white markings on each leg at the thigh.He visited once and we have not seen him again. I am ready to take pictures if he returns.

  12. Di Nimmo

    In Florida I feed many ducks and birds:however,recently I have had a Blackbird with a white tail,white circled thighs, and a white wing.He is black colored on the other areas of his body,but the back of his neck is a glistening navy blue.He arrives with a group of Blackbirds every afternoon to feed.His colors are quite unusual.

  13. kristel stopoulos

    In LeClaire, Iowa, we’ve seen one 2 days in a row at our feeder, in fact, watching him right now. Bright white tail, otherwise normal black colors.

  14. Maria

    Just saw a black bird with completely white tail here in Waukegan, IL (halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee on lake michigan). It is with a flock of blackbirds.

  15. Paula

    I have a female blackbird with a white ‘spot’ (small patch of white feathers) on the top of her head, and another on the back of her neck. One of her feet is without pigment too. I’ve been aware of this bird for two years now as she has chosen to nest-build amongst the ivy in my garden. (Her nests are incredibly well-positioned and of sturdy construction … this year she successfully used the same nest to hatch 3 separate clutches of eggs!) She appears to be a fine, fit and healthy bird … and she obviously has had no difficulty in attracting a mate!

  16. Dennis

    I just this morning saw a blackbird with one white feather in the center of its tail. It looked like somebody had painted a racing stripe on its tail! Otherwise looked exactly like all the other blackbirds in the yard.
    My bird books were of no help when trying to figure out what it was. Thanks for clearing it up – it’s just a blackbird with an odd tail feather.
    I’m in Evanston, Illinois (suburb of Chicago).

  17. Jackie

    Yesterday and again this morning, there was a blackbird with two white tail central feathers. That is the only white on the bird. This is the first time that I have seen a bird like this. I will try to get a picture. Does anyone have a picture that I could compare it with? I am in West Bloomfield MI just outside of Detroit.

  18. Marcia

    I live in Portland, Oregon and mid December I spotted a tiny slim black bird with a white tail standing on an outer branch of one of my tree, had not seen it before.

  19. christine

    today we have had a black bird with full white tail. He has been by itself all day. Never seen one like this..Does anyone know what it might be…it kinda hops when it walks.

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