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Albino sparrows spotted in Wiltshire

Posted on 10th June 2017

We have all become accustomed to seeing the hearty speckled sparrow in nearly every British garden, and sightings of sparrows in Wiltshire should not cause much of a stir. However albino sparrows are somewhat of a rarity and pairs of albino sparrows even more so.

Sparrow bathing

When enjoying a retreat in a Wiltshire cottage holiday, you are more likely to see this rarity than ever thanks to a community of people living on the Kennet and Avon Canal in Wiltshire. The birds that have been spotted are leucistic, meaning they have partial pigmentation loss. Though their feathers may be white, they are not fully albino, which would be signified by pink eyes such as in other species.

Thought to be the first pair ever spotted, other albino and white sparrows have been seen previously, with a sighting in Norfolk in 2015 and an albino sparrow photographed in Sanctuary Lakes, Melbourne, Australia in the same year. Unfortunately due to their colouration, albino sparrows are a much more obvious target for predators, meaning they often have shorter life spans, and this is the reason the genetic mutation is so rarely seen. However residents of the local area are ‘feeding them and taking care of them’.

Unfortunately it is not just white sparrows who are under threat, the common house sparrow has experienced a gradual decline over the last century. The RSPB are doing their best to raise awareness of the issue: “House sparrow numbers were not monitored adequately before the mid-1970s. Since then, numbers in rural England have nearly halved while numbers in towns and cities have declined by 60 per cent. Because of these large population declines, the house sparrow is now red-listed as a species of high conservation concern.”

Image Credit: Kurt Bauschardt