Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Albino Magpie in Kangaloon

Today, at Kangaloon (dairy-farming country near Robertson)  I was able to get a photo of an unusual bird which I have seen in the distance on several occasions over three months. I had though that perhaps it was a Corella with a deformed beak (I supposed it might have severe Beak and Feather Disease, if it was indeed a Corella.) It turned out not to be a Corella, but an Albino Magpie.

Albino Magpie at Kangaloon 7 Jan 2012
I had never been close enough 
to get a proper ID of the bird, until today.
It turned out to be a large specimen of a Magpie, 
and quite confident. 
It walked across the paddock into the shade, 
where it was relatively close to me.

It has pink beak, pink legs and white eyes.
A dead-set full albino.
It was successfully feeding on large insect larvae in the paddock.
Albino Magpie successfully feeding in the paddock.
I spoke with a woman who lives nearby, and she knows the bird, and said it had been around for about 6 years.
It is apparently very "bossy" when it comes to dealing with other Magpies.
(She had hand-raised several foundling juveniles about 3 years ago, and this bird had "come around" while her charges were still being fed).

So, from that, we know that it is surviving OK in the field.

It is at least 4 years old, possibly as much as 6, though that requires further consultation with another property-owner.

Here are two other photos which Jill Keft sent me in 2008. The photos are possible even older than that. You can see that, compared to a standard coloured male Magpie, it is a relatively large bird.

Jill Keft's photo circa 2008, Albino and natural colour forms.

Jill Keft's photo of Albino Magpie, circa 2008
So, this bird is surviving well in the wild, despite the stories one hears of albino birds and animals having low survival rates, owing to their high visibility, and being ostracised by other members of their species.


Rohrerbot said...

What an interesting thing to see! I laugh about the "bossy" thing because I think I am bullied by our birds at times. They sit on the branches and wait for me to feed them. Sometimes, the hummingbirds just fly by my head for a kill:) I put the feeder up and they drink right away not even caring that I'm standing next to the darn thing.

mick said...

Wow! Great photos of an amazing bird. That is one bird I would certainly like to see! It's very interesting that it is apparently surviving well in the wild. I wonder if it has a mate or if it is solitary?

Le Loup said...

Great images, well done.
Regards, Keith.

Denis Wilson said...

Thanks Rohrerbot, Mick and Keith,

Mick, I don't know if this bird has paired up or not.
It certainly has been by itself every time I have seen it. If I hear more, I will let you know.

Rohrerbot - your Hummingirds sound dangerous. Just as well they are as small as they are.
"Pound for Pound" they are obviously packed with energy and aggression.

Keith - thanks for the comments.


Flabmeister said...


I am intrigued that in your images (particularly the first one) it appears as though the bird is somewhat feather-deficient on the head. Looking at Jill's images it looks much "smoother".

Am I imagining things?


Denis Wilson said...

Hi Martin
I think it is just an artifice of the light on pale feathers and pink skin.
It did not cooperate sufficiently to present itself to me "face on" in full sun.
Jill's last image is quite similar, (although I cannot blow that image up, as it was not a large image) the area below the eyes looks similarly pale.

catmint said...

Hi Denis, well no wonder I'm struggling with my bird id when nature tricks us with albinos. In humans albinos have very poor eyesight but it seems this bird can see very well. I'm so pleased it is thriving despite multiple risks. cheers, cm

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Catmint.
Your comment hits just the right note.
I was "happy" for this bird that it is coping well with being born such a stand-out individual.

Mac_fromAustralia said...

Oh, here it is. I just mentioned in another comment that I had seen one of your photos on the Canberra Times website. Great photos, yours and the others, glad the bird is doing well.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mac.
Now you know where Tim found his story.
That's fine with me. He sought my permission.
He gets the word out to a different audience.

Mac_fromAustralia said...

Oh yes, he acknowledged the source... and I went, I know that name!

Denis Wilson said...

Indeed you do know that name!