Flintshire man spots rare white sparrows

Reporter:

Robin Jones

A BIRD watcher has caught a rare glimpse of pure white sparrows.

Barry Hodginson photographed the two birds as they perched in his back garden.

Experts consider it one of the rarest sights in the British countryside, with one saying: “You’d have a better chance of winning the lottery.”

Mr Hodginson, of Woodlands Close, Mold, said: “When the first sparrow came along I knew I was seeing something special.

“My grand-daughter, who’s training to be a vet, did some research and suggested that if you get one of these white sparrows around, there’s nearly always a pair.

“I spent some time photographing and sure enough a partner came along to join him.”

The birds could easily be mistaken for albino sparrows, but in fact suffer from a similar condition called leucism.

The condition occurs when pigmentation cells fail to develop properly, in this case bleaching the sparrows’ feathers.

Garden bird expert Peter Robinson said: “These sparrows are particularly unusual because they’re totally white. We often get birds with white on them, so to see a wholly white one is extremely rare.

“To see two at the same time is extraordinary.”

Historically the birds have been regarded as magical, with native Americans seeing them as rare and important wonders.

In Russian folklore they were dubbed ‘Dukes’ and it was believed they could grant wishes.

But the condition can also leave the creatures vulnerable to predators as they lose their natural camouflage.

See full story in the Leader

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