Possible reasons for blackbirds with white feathers

From Christina –

I live in the United Kingdom. I live in a semi rural village 10 miles from Liverpool city centre.

For about 4 years I’ve seen many birds of the appearance and size of a blackbird (black with the exception of white feathers on the tail, and yellow beak) feeding for worms on the grass.

I’ve never seen them fly or resting on a fence post, trampoline, or bird bath of which we have plenty in our garden. I’ve also never been able to photograph one, as even through a window they flee quickly once spotted, dashing across the ground between a ground level hedge.

Around the same time, ironically my hairdresser identified my hair although very dark in colour, has developed a pure white streak of hairs at the centre bottom (honestly). Identical to the type of bird in question. Very amusing to my family, who now call me “birdie hair”. But on a more serious note it makes me wonder if it is something environmental which perhaps the birds are also exposed to?!?!


Hello Christina,
Here is some information I discovered about blackbirds with white tail feathers.  It seems to show that the white feathers are a sign the birds aren’t in tip top condition.

Interesting about your hair.  My hair is dark with white streaks as well!  Perhaps we are both lacking in some vitamins!

Reasons why blackbirds (and other birds ) have white feathers :

Lack of a good diet
Injury to the bird can cause a white feather to grow
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.

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.

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

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 saw my white tailed blackbird in among a group of blackbirds)

Hope this helps. So all in all white feathers seem to be a sign that the bird is not in tip top condition. This is another good reason to put bird food out for our feathered friends
If anyone has any other information please let me know.

Christina got in touch because of this article from 2009

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