Jan Morton took a photo of this light-coloured magpie seen on several occasions in Whittington. It is usually with a group of 5-6 magpies and she was wondering about the colourings.
Tania Ireton from Birdlife Australia replied:
‘It’s a leucistic magpie. Leucistic means that the black is either missing or not as dark as it should be, but other features such as eye or beak colour are not affected. This bird is simply grey where the black should be. It’s a genetic mutation that can be seen in many species but because these birds are more visible to predators they don’t normally live very long. They can also be attacked by their own species because they look different.
If the bird was an albino it would be even whiter and the eyes would be pink or reddish. Over the years I have seen a number of leucistic birds including magpie, Chestnut Teal, Double-banded Plover (that I saw at the WTP for at least seven years) and Blackbird’.