Rare Leucistic Hummingbird

Copyright © 2017 Deborah M. Zajac. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

I had heard there was a rare white Hummingbird in Santa Cruz at UC Santa Cruz’s Arboretum last year, but didn’t see it when I was there photographing Allen’s Hummingbirds that come to winter there.

This year a friend and I went over to find the tree it had been spotted  hanging out in and we found both the tree and the rare white Hummingbird straight-away.

Rare White Hummingbird

Here’s a  description of Leucism, “Leucism, a developmental condition resulting in the loss of pigmentation. Unlike albino birds, which can’t produce the pigment melanin, leucistic birds produce melanin but can’t deposit it into their feathers. Albino birds also have red or pink eyes, but this hummingbird’s eyes are black, along with its bill and feet.

What makes this Hummingbird so rare is that it is almost completely white. Most leucistic birds are only partially affected, and have white patches of feathers amid colored plumage.”~Audubon.org

I spoke with a woman working at the Arboretum after my visit to find out if this is the same Leucistic Anna’s Hummingbird that was there last May and she said, “they believe it is”.

Leucistic Hummingbird

It’s so striking, and pretty isn’t it?   Poor thing has some kind of infection on its bill. I asked about that too, but they haven’t captured the Hummer to do any tests on it. So, they don’t know what the infection is. She did say  he’s (it’s a male) getting better and the Hummingbird is zipping around acting healthy so, they’re letting nature run its course.

Leucistic Allen's Hummingbird

It flew away from its tree a few times, and I found it in the little fountain bathing but I wasn’t quick enough to get a photo of that. Unfortunately I spooked it.  I did manage a few images of it preening and cleaning its feathers afterwards though. Here’s one.

Preening Rare White Hummingbird

It was quite a treat to find this beauty so quickly, and observe it for a short while. It’s the first Leucistic bird of any kind I’ve ever seen.

I hope it returns next year and I’m lucky enough to see it again.

I hope you all have a wonderful week-end!

Nikon D700| Nikkor 200-500mm| Hoodman STEEL Digital Film| PS CC 2017

More to come…

54 thoughts on “Rare Leucistic Hummingbird

  1. Thank you for sharing the wee white pal here. So glad you found the elusive guy.
    This beautiful little Leucistic Hummer caught my heart and now, I am fascinated by him. 💖 I want to watch him and keep him safe from bird’s of prey, Deborah. Be safe, my little friend. 🙏

  2. A leucistic mallard is the closest I’ve been to this. No hummingbirds of any kind where I live (Sweden). I was out this evening listening for eagle owls (on the opposite end of the scale when it comes to size), but none was heard. Takes some patience to get to hear them.

    1. Oh wow, it would be neat to see a Leucistic duck or any bird. I’d love to hear Eagle owls and see them too! Training the ear to know birds calls, and songs is a real talent.

      Is it too cold for Hummingbirds there?

      1. Yes, too cold for hummingbirds. Training to know bird calls is rewarding indeed. But you need having someone to help you. It’s such an experience beginning to read the parts of the bird-song symphony on an early summer’s day.

          1. Yes hanging out with birders better than me – that’s the thing to do. There’s one of these birders I’ve began hanging out with lately – he can identify the tiniest little chirp. And the good thing is he he knows how to tell you what makes this particular chirp identifiable from that. I’ve learnt plenty hanging out with him. He’s 60 and I’m 69.

            1. Maybe he had a Grandpa or Grandma that taught him when he was young and he actually picked it up and obviously he has an excellent ear. Wonder if he plays a musical instrument?

              I have tried teaching my kids what I know and neither of them really paid attention. Outside of a duck I don’t think they can recognize any bird calls or songs. My Grandson though…he pays attention and has told his parents. That’s a Dove, or that’s House Finch. They’re impressed. I’m pleased as punch! 🙂

              I need someone like your friend to hang out with birding.

            1. Thank you! I hadn’t seen this one. I have the Audubon app for North American Birds on my cell phone. I use it quite a lot. It has songs of the birds in the app which is really neat.

  3. Neat! I’ve never seen a leucistic hummingbird. Glad you and your friend spotted it! Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos and interesting information. I hope the little guy’s bill heals soon! Happy weekend 🙂

        1. Yes. We’ve been looking for several months now, but haven’t found “the house” we both love.
          We’re looking for a place we like that we can afford to live when or before He-Man retires. It’s too expensive where we are sadly.

          1. Sorry to hear you have to move because your current home is too expensive. Any luck finding “the house”? I’m sure there is a lovely new home waiting for the two of you somewhere… 🙂

            1. It’s not the house that is too expensive really. It’s paid for now, but the area is very expensive.

              We found a house we came this – close to putting an offer on, but we wanted to check out a few things first. We’re still doing the kicking the math around and in the undecided camp. 🙂

              I don’t think this was the right house after all.
              Yes, you’re right there’s a house out there…we’ll find it.

            2. Best of luck with your continued search. And I hope the weather cooperates for your hiking weekend. I love the flower photos you posted today – great composition and fun effects! 🙂

  4. How unusual, and thank you for sharing because I’m pretty sure most of us will never have an opportunity to see one. 🙂 I hung my feeder out this week. I am forever hopeful, but we haven’t seen any for a couple of years.

  5. Isn’t he just beautiful?!? Rarities are beautiful. I’ve never seen one in person. You did a great job at capturing him. I’m glad his beak looks to be healing.

  6. You would think that it’s white coloration might make it more vulnerable to predation, so it is really cool that it made it through a year and has come back. Your images of it are delightful.

    1. Good point! There are Hawks there too. I hear at least one every time I visit. I’m glad it survived the year too. I hope it continues avoiding predators!

      Thank you so much Melissa! xx Have a great week-end!

  7. Wow! Thanks for sharing this find. I admire your dedication to getting back out there to find this little guy. I hope he gets healthy again.

    1. Thank you Dan! It was worth the drive over to see this little Hummer.
      If he stays all year perhaps I’ll see him again before next spring.

      I hope he continues to get better too.

      Have a great week-end Dan!

  8. It’s rarity makes these captures even more special, Deborah. Absolutely wonderful!! 🙏

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