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Rare 'white' blackbird spotted

A rare white blackbird that was spotted by an amateur birdwatcher in her back garden in Deeping St James, near Peterborough, Cambridgeshire. Photo: Fiona Crofts/PA.

A rare white blackbird that was spotted by an amateur birdwatcher in her back garden in Deeping St James, near Peterborough, Cambridgeshire. Photo: Fiona Crofts/PA.

A rare white blackbird has been spotted by an amateur birdwatcher, it emerged yesterday.

Fiona Crofts noticed the bird in her back garden in Deeping St James, near Peterborough, Cambridgeshire.

At first the 26-year-old administrator thought she was looking at a white dove but was pleasantly surprised when she reached for her spectacles.

"I was getting ready for work and looked into my garden and saw a white bird," said Ms Crofts.

"I thought it was a dove but when I reached for my glasses and saw it, it was actually a blackbird."

Ms Crofts said she believes the bird may have a strange genetic disorder but specialists think the bird is an albino.

Albino birds are white because some or all of the normal pigmentation is missing. The characteristic can affect the beak, claws, eyes and plumage.

Erica Howe, from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, said that there are different levels of albinism in blackbirds.

"Some are completely white, while others have only a few white patches or feathers," said Ms Howe.

"The problem albino blackbirds have is that they stand out quite a lot.

"This means they are vulnerable to predators such as cats, foxes and larger birds of prey and are easily targeted.

"They may also struggle to find a mate but this is not always the case."

According to the RSPB, albinism occurs in more than 160 species of birds in Britain and tends to be genetic.

"Nearly a third of albino birds in Britain are thrushes and blackbirds, but they are still quite rare," added Ms Howe.

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