An albino hummingbird is a rare bird that looks, unlike any other hummer. Albino hummingbirds suffer from albinism, a genetic mutation that impedes dark pigment production. This gives their feathers an eerie white color – a treat for lucky birders that can spot one!
Typically, Hummingbirds are small birds that come in a variety of colors and patterns. They’re especially well-known for their bright red feathers and iridescent gorget—they can come in orange, green, blue, and purple (usually a combination of more colors)! That’s why it’s so unusual to see one with no color.
But it’s still as spectacular!
Albino birds are rare in nature, but they exist! More than that, it turns out that any animal can have albinism, as well as people. This is a rare sighting indeed, so if you ever have the chance to see an albino hummingbird, consider yourself lucky.
There are other types of albinism in birds, including leucism. Leucism is a type of partial albinism that causes feathers to be white instead of standard colors, but eyes and feet keep their coloration.
Come September, Hummingbirds generally migrate to Central America and Mexico and typically spend their summer in the United States. But albino hummers may find it hard to be able to relocate for such long distances, being that their feathers are more sensitive.
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What does an albino hummingbird look like?
Albino and Leucistic hummingbirds’ coloration stands out so much that it is impossible to miss. By simply looking at one, you can tell the bird is not of the typical variety.
But there are more types of white hummingbirds, so we are going to mention all of them here:
The first thing you notice when observing an actual albino hummingbird is their pure white feathers, pink eyes, bill, and feet. Unlike other types, they’re entirely white birds that don’t have any pigment in them.
While similar, white leucistic hummingbirds have some notable differences from the more typical white albino hummer. In addition to being pure white, some albino hummingbirds will also show signs of leucism. This occurs when there are slight changes to their pigmentation (but not enough to make them completely white). For example, they have black eyes, feet, and bills.
Leucistic birds produce melanin but can’t transfer it to their feathers, resulting in a white body with some dark patches scattered around.
Pied (or Piebald) hummingbirds are neither leucistic nor albino. The melanin is missing only in some areas of the body resulting in black and white patches on the body. They can have partial white plumage and partial normal coloration (like green or brown)
As opposed to the other type, this one has some color!
Albino white hummingbirds are not to be confused with white-tailed hummingbirds because the only white portion of their body is their tail. The name might sound misleading, but their appearances have nothing in common.
Where can you spot albino hummingbirds?
Albino and leucistic hummingbirds are rare sightings, but there are some reported cases:
A rare Albino ruby-throated hummingbird was seen in Muskogee, Oklahoma (18 August 2019)
An albino Ruby-Throated Hummingbird was seen in 2019 in Chardon Township, Ohio, in a lucky family’s backyard.
A leucistic Anna’s hummingbird visited the Australian Garden at the University of California, Santa Cruz Arboretum.
In 2017, another white hummingbird was spotted near the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum and Botanic Garden (it seemed to be Allen’s hummingbird)
Some leucistic Ruby-throated were also seen in Missouri Ozarks, Colorado, Louisiana, and Oswego.
You can see hummingbird photos on Hummingbirdcentral.com, including some spottings of rare white hummingbirds. You can see pictures of the most documented cases here.
You may have a bigger chance of spotting some of them in Alabama (as previously observed)
Disadvantages of being an albino hummingbird
Because of their brittle wings, rare albino hummers might not migrate for longer distances like their peers. While hummers forget usually do stand out from other birds, it turns out that being a white hummer might attract the attention of much more predators. And because this physical characteristic is missing, male hummingbirds find it harder to find a partner (an essential parting of their mating ritual is showing off their beautiful iridescent gorget).
Albino hummingbirds have decreased sight and hearing – this might make it difficult for them to find food or be wary of potential dangers.
There are different types of albino hummingbirds, so it’s essential to know the difference between the white, leucistic, and true albino. A white hummingbird only has very few (or not at all) pigments in its body because it has a genetic mutation that hinders melanin production.
Like regular hummingbirds, albino hummers also like the same things – they will hang around hummingbird feeders, are attracted to the color red, and love birdbaths. They also have almost identical behavior to regular hummingbirds.
Now that you know the differences between them, you will learn how to notice them if you are lucky enough to spot one in your garden.
But don’t get your hopes up. Seeing an albino hummingbird is genuinely like winning the lottery!