-- "Albino" (Leucistic) Hummingbird Banded by Operation RubyThroat Director--

On 12 August 1999, Operation RubyThroat director Bill Hilton Jr. traveled to Anderson, South Carolina USA to investigate reports of an albino hummingbird visiting a feeder. Hilton was able to capture the bird, band it and determine it was actually a leucistic Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris).

© Bill Hilton Jr.

A bird that is a complete albino lacks all black pigment (melanin) so that its plumage would be white and its eyes, bill, and feet would be pink.

This young female Ruby-throated Hummingbird (left) is essentially all-white but has dark eyes, feet, and bill, making it "leucistic" rather than "albinistic." Note also the dark streak near the bend of the wing, the narrow black eye-ring, and the dusky crown.

Further evidence that this Ruby-throated Hummingbird is leucistic and not a true albino is revealed by the dusky bases of the rectrices (tail feathers). In a normal RTHU, these areas are metallic green or brownish-green, while in an albino they would be completely white. White tail tips are typical of female--and young male--Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.

© Bill Hilton Jr.

For additional information about this leucistic bird, see "Man Finds Rare White Hummingbird".

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