Rare albino robin spotted in Winchester

Family's yard yields a very rare sight

May 13, 2011 

A Winchester man got to witness an ornithological oddity in his yard this week: a baby albino robin.

"I'm 80 years old, and I've never seen anything like that," Hubert Sparks said.

He and his wife discovered the bird Wednesday night and have been feeding it worms after noticing that the bird's parents weren't feeding it.

The bird is completely white and has pink eyes, making it a true albino.

Albinism is a genetic mutation that prevents the production of melanin, or pigmentation, in the body, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The bird's eyes appear pink because of the blood vessels behind the eyes.

Many American robins can show patches of white or diluted colors, but a true albino, which exhibits a total lack of pigmentation, is rare, said John Brunjes, a wildlife biologist in the migratory bird program of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources.

Sadly, birds with abnormally white feathers typically do not survive long because they are much more visible to predators, according to Cornell's ornithologists. Those that do live might have trouble attracting a mate.

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