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Miranda Hodgson

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A white-headed blackbird and a lucky young toad

Posted by Miranda Hodgson on 22 Aug 2010 at 05:14 PM

Working in a garden the other day, I was surprised to see a white-headed blackbird (Turdus merula). I shouldn’t have been surprised, because blackbirds with white heads are not especially uncommon. This one was a male and looked very healthy, if a little peculiar. The yellow beak does look better next to black feathers rather than white ones.



When blackbirds have white feathers, rather than being white all over, it’s referred to as leucism. All-white birds are albino.

This autumn should be a good one for blackbirds, since almost every apple tree I’ve seen is so heavy with fruit that many branches reach the ground and the fallen fruit will provide a feast for blackbirds, as well as for other creatures like hedgehogs. If ever a blackbird could get fed up of apples, then this year might be the one for that to happen.

In the vegetable garden, the frogs and toads continue to make us jump as we come across them sheltering under plants or in the ground. Digging up potatoes the other day, revealed a young toad (Bufo bufo) hiding beneath the moist soil - it was lucky to avoid the tines of the fork and be carefully relocated to the other side of the garden, by the pond, where no digging is carried out. Before we moved it, we paused to admire its beautiful eyes which were a rich reddish-brown and looked very much like polished red Tiger’s Eye gem stones. 

 

 The toad, probably very much annoyed at being woken up and taken from its bed.

 

More on blackbirds

Comments

yvonne48 said:

such an expressive face!

on 22 Aug 2010 at 06:11 PM

richardpeeej said:

I don't think I have seen a blackbird with a white head before Miranda. I think the toad was lucky too not to get the fork tine treatment. I really enjoy your nature blogs..Richard

on 22 Aug 2010 at 09:02 PM

Miranda Hodgson said:

And a cross face, too, Yvonne, though I expect it was happy to be released somewhere safe.

Keep a look out, Richard. There are a few about and you might get lucky! Thank you for the kind comments!

on 23 Aug 2010 at 01:23 PM

pushkin said:

Very unusual bird, to me!  Thanks again for sharing your garden.

on 23 Aug 2010 at 01:42 PM

asj said:

Beautiful toad, Miranda - not to mention the blackbird.  I haven't seen one like that before, either.

on 23 Aug 2010 at 07:24 PM

Miranda Hodgson said:

Do you get white-headed birds where you are, pushkin?

Thanks, asj - keep a look out for birds with white feathers. The condition is also seen amongst rooks.

on 25 Aug 2010 at 12:03 PM

Rae said:

Hi Miranda - we have a white headed blackbird in our garden too (Poole, Dorset) I thought he had been hurt or something but he has been around for 3 years now.  But... we also have a Robin who has a white head - again I thought it had been hurt or pecked - but he is still around and still has a white head?  Have you seen that before?

on 25 Aug 2010 at 12:29 PM

Miranda Hodgson said:

Rae - no, I have never seen a robin with a white head. That's quite something! I wonder how it got along with the other robins and if it found a mate?

on 26 Aug 2010 at 05:46 PM