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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 August 2007, 06:22 GMT 07:22 UK
Twitcher captures Albino sparrows
By Martin Cassidy
BBC NI environment correspondent

Albino sparrow
Albino sparrows' distinctive plumage attracts predators
A pair of rare Albino sparrows have turned up in County Antrim.

The pure white birds, which lack the the common sparrow's usual brown, grey and black pigmentation, were spotted in a garden near Islandmagee.

An RSPB expert says the sparrows are probably members of a brood of entirely white birds, as some birds are born with reduced pigmentation.

These leucistic birds, as they are known, are more common than a pure Albino brood.

The Islandmagee birds, however, show classic Albino characteristics with pure white plumage, pink eyes and no sign of the usual colours in their beaks or legs.

Albino sparrow
A keen birdwatcher captured the rare footage of the sparrows

A local bird watcher managed to film the birds feeding and resting.

Sadly, the Albino birds face an uncertain future, as their bright plumage marks them out and leaves them particularly vulnerable to attack by predators.

Sparrow hawks and cats pose the major threats to these young birds.


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