Rare White Crow Sightings Excite Kootenay Birdwatchers
Lisa Chabot’s sighting of a rare white crow this week has challenged the common assumption that all crows are black.
Chabot, who lives in Glade, British Columbia, about 20 kilometers northwest of Castlegar, said he noticed something white floating among a group of black crows in his neighborhood on Monday.
« He’s exactly like a crow, but he’s completely white – he’s not an albino, he doesn’t have pink eyes and his legs are white, » Chabot, a ferry operator, told the host. Sarah Penton on CBC. Radio West.
« It’s unreal, I can’t believe it. »
« Not a common phenomenon »
Chabot took a quick photo of the white crow and shared the image on social media, where she wrote that it was a « one in 10,000 chance » of seeing such a bird.
His post sparked enthusiastic discussions among West Kootenay residents who said they had also recently seen a white crow in surrounding communities like Slocan and Crescent Valley.
David Bradley, B.C. director of bird conservation organization Birds Canada, says he’s hesitant to estimate the likelihood of spotting a white crow, but admits he hasn’t seen one in his 35 recent years of birdwatching.
« I would be inclined to think that’s not a common occurrence, » he said.
Judging by Chabot’s photo, Bradley believes the white crow is leucistic, meaning the animal has reduced black pigmentation in its feathers, but unlike an albino crow, it has normally colored eyes.
He adds that white crows, which are common on Haida Gwaii, are also leucistic.
« It’s kind of like albinism, but it’s not full albinism, » he said. « If a bird has a genetic defect or mutation, then it has the inability to produce melanin, so when it grows feathers, it grows white. »
Bradley says leucism could pose serious challenges to a crow’s survival.
« They may be chosen by other crows or they may be more visible to predators, » he said. « Prey might be alerted to it, especially if it’s white. »
Bradley noted that residents of the Lower Mainland of British Columbia reported seeing a leucistic crow last year. In recent years, residents of Vancouver Island have also noticed an albino crow and a white crow.
Radio West7:50 amA Glade woman snapped a photo of the rare white crow. A bird expert weighs