It is no surprise that albino ruby-throated hummingbirds are rare. What is surprising is that one turned up in the backyard of the Gutka family in Chardon Township Ohio. Not only did they actually see the white bird, they also managed to capture it on video. The world of bird watching has been humming about it ever since -- and who could blame them?
Photo by Jim Sullivan, Image via flickr
September is the time when hummingbirds start making their winter migration from northern climes to Mexico and Central America. Therefore there are plenty of the tiny creatures flowing through the United States at this time of year. The Gutka family does what they can to draw the birds to their yard -- including the placement of bright red patio furniture and having a garden full of nectar-rich flowers. Andrea Gutka credits the Rose of Sharon bush in particular for drawing hummingbirds in. Of course they also have hummingbird feeders hung about as well.
Image via Dayton Daily News
Only a handful of albino ruby-throated hummingbirds have ever been seen. For that matter few white hummingbirds that are leucistic have ever been seen as well. The albino bird can be distinguished by its red or pink eyes, bill, and feet. Albino animals cannot produce the pigment melanin. Leucistic birds produce melanin, just not in their feathers.
Because of the white color these hummingbirds are more at risk from predators since they lack their natural camouflage. This is one of the reasons that sightings are rare.
For bird watchers seeing an albino hummingbird is somewhat the equivalent of seeing a unicorn. To most birders the white hummingbird is has a mythical quality.
Gutka summed it up "We felt like we hit our own little lottery out here in the world of nature."