I became aware that there was a white hummingbird in central Ohio due to a post by Jim McCormac on his blog, Ohio Birds and Biodiversity. The bird is hanging around the herb garden of Inniswood Metro Gardens in Westerville, Ohio where there are still some flowers in bloom. After being spotted, someone put up a hummingbird feeder for it. I drove over there today to see if it was still there, and was I in for a treat!
There are two different mutations that can cause a bird or animal to be white instead of its normal color: albinism and leucism. An albino bird lacks an enzyme which is a building block in the production of melanin pigment, so its feathers are white and its eyes are pink. Leucistic bird suffer from a genetic defect that prevents the melanin pigment from being deposited in all or some of its feathers, but its eyes, beak, and feet are normally colored. Since the bird above has dark eyes, a dark beak, and some pigment in its feathers, it is a leucistic bird.
Leucistic birds have a hard time of it. They are an easier target for a predator, and the genetic defect that prevents the pigment from being deposited in their feathers also makes the feathers more brittle than usual. While talking to other people who were observing this particular bird, I was told that it was even being bothered by bluebirds which typically eat insects. It’s possible that due to its small size, white color, and flitting movements that it might have looked like a moth to them.
It can be challenging to identify the species of a leucistic bird when you can’t rely on the normal coloration. However in McCormac’s post he reports that Allen Chartier, a licensed hummingbird bander, has identified it as being a female, Ruby-throated hummingbird based the bird’s tail feathers. It is believed to be a juvenile that hatched earlier this year.
And with that let me show you some more photos that I took of it today.
It was thrilling getting to see this little bird; if you live in central Ohio and are interested in seeing it, it would probably be a good idea to go over there soon. It might continue its migration south any day now.
Inniswood Metro Gardens is located at 940 S. Hempstead Road, Westerville, Ohio.
- TrekOhio: Franklin County Parks & Nature Preserves – This is the county where Inniswood Metro Gardens is located; check out this page for basic information on the park and a link to the official site.
- Jim McCormac: White hummingbird at Inniswood Gardens: a recap
- Wikipedia: Leucism
- About.com: Bird Leucism
- British Trust for Ornithology: Leucism & albinism
More on Birds
23 thoughts on “White (Leucistic) Ruby-throated Hummingbird at Inniswood Gardens”
What a rare beauty! It’s kind of sad it becomes an easier target for predators.
Such a cute little character! Very interesting information and stunning photos – thanks for sharing 😀 x
Your welcome, beckarooney! I’m glad that I was able to share the photos of the white hummingbird with people who can’t see it in person. It’s such a rarity!
So am I! Your photos are the closest I will ever come to seeing it 🙂 x
Wonderful photos. I was able to go this morning and see this beautiful little lady. Probably a once in a lifetime event.
Becky, thanks! Seeing a white hummingbird probably is a once in a lifetime event. I’m glad that we both got to see it. I hope it does okay and continues its migration.
Very interesting – glad you were able to see it and great pics as always !
Thanks, J.! I’m glad that I got to see it, too. Hope the hummingbird resumes its migration soon.
I have never known the difference and this is a first time I have seen a white hummingbird. Thanks for sharing, Deb!
Your welcome, Jane! This same park has white squirrels, too. Maybe that’s a local specialty?!? 😀
Are the squirrels albino or leucistic? I have never seen this though have seen white magpies and moose.Quite fascinating!
Well, I’m tempted to think the squirrel pictured below is albino due to the light colored eyes, nose, and claws.
And I’m thinking the one below this is leucistic.
Both photos were taken at the same park where the white hummingbird recently appeared.
I’ve heard of white magpies, but not of white moose… now that would be something special to see!
This is cool, I agree re the names.
Wonderful pictures, as always! We stopped by Inniswood today and saw it–quite the novelty!
Thanks, Deb! I wonder if it’s still there.
wow you dont see them everyday,
That’s probably the only white hummingbird I’ll ever see. I’ve thought about going back and seeing it again, but I’m almost worried that it will still be there. I don’t think any hummingbirds should be this far north now.
not really I have seen them in november before, surly they can fly fast enough to stay ahead of the cold, hard to believe how tough those little birds really aer.
Excellent photos and write-up, Deb.
Thanks! I never thought I’d see a white hummingbird.
Thank you for sharing this as with all your posts.
Thanks, Patricia. We always enjoy hearing from you. 🙂