Piebald hummingbird in North Saanich a rare discovery indeed

A rare hummingbird has been spotted in North Saanich.

Jennifer Duncan first noticed the green and white speckled bird at her feeder about 10 days ago.

article continues below

“I thought I better get my binoculars so I know I’m seeing right,” she said. “When it flew away and sat in the tree and looked at me, it was just like a white beacon.”

Eric Pittman, who has been lecturing on hummingbirds for five years, identified the bird as a piebald Anna’s hummingbird. The term “piebald” refers to a leucistic abnormality, similar to albinism, which prevents pigment from being properly deposited on a bird’s feathers.

“It’s a very rare condition and it just comes through genetic mutation,” he said, likening the bird to a pinto horse or blue merle dog.

Duncan told him about the bird before a presentation he gave at the Sidney Garden Club. He visited her Saturday and saw for himself.

“This is absolutely the first time I’ve seen one,” said Pittan, who has given talks on hummingbirds at the University of Victoria and the Mary Winspear Centre, and runs the website Hummingbirdsupclose.com. “There are very few pictures of it anywhere. I sent [a photo] off to a few university people and none of them have seen one either. It’s completely rare.”

He said the condition doesn’t affect the bird, aside from giving it a different look — which might be an advantage.

“She really does blend in a lot in some of the sparser bushes,” he said.

Anna’s are one of four species of hummingbirds commonly found on Vancouver Island.

Those interested in learning more about local hummingbirds are invited to a three-hour drop-in event at Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary.

Hummingbird Day will arrive Sunday, March 31, from noon to 3 p.m. Admission is by donation.

Experts will talk about the best ways to attract hummingbirds to your home, and there will be crafts for kids and games of Hummingbird Bingo.


Read Related Topics

© Copyright Times Colonist


NOTE: To post a comment you must have an account with at least one of the following services: Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ You may then login using your account credentials for that service. If you do not already have an account you may register a new profile with Disqus by first clicking the "Post as" button and then the link: "Don't have one? Register a new profile".

The Times Colonist welcomes your opinions and comments. We do not allow personal attacks, offensive language or unsubstantiated allegations. We reserve the right to edit comments for length, style, legality and taste and reproduce them in print, electronic or otherwise. For further information, please contact the editor or publisher, or see our Terms and Conditions.

comments powered by Disqus

Find out what's happening in your community.

Most Popular