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'Albino Blackbird': Poem; True Chance Encounter with Rare Albino Blackbird

Author:

Ann is interested in animals and nature. The correct treatment of animals is high on the list. Hens in the garden is her latest venture.

When & Where it Happened

I was helping the houseparents of a school boarding house; actually they were also helping me as I had nowhere to live for six weeks! Lucky students to live in such an enchanted place; a huge mansion, with a rambling garden and paddocks leading down to a river where they could fish and paddle canoes.

Energetic badminton in the garden or relaxing evening strolls down to the river, whatever the activity the place itself was peaceful, even magical in the quiet evenings, a soothing balm after a busy day.

I often took that walk down to the river, sometimes alone. I love watching for the birds; herons playing statues to fool the fish, buntings flying like skipping stones across water, shy blackbirds singing in the hedgerow.


An Enchanted Place

The River Brue at the end of the bottom paddock at 'The Lakes'

The River Brue at the end of the bottom paddock at 'The Lakes'

An Unexpected Privilege

I had never seen any albino creature in the wild and never thought I would. One day, I came across such a creature. It seemed to be there just for me, it sang just for me and it became a habit for me to go in search of even just a brief sighting.

So special was this experience that I wanted to record its existence, the effect it had on me; a courageous, bold bird that surely had to fight for its existence far harder than most.


A Graphic Contradiction

Albino Blackbird

Albino Blackbird

The Albino Blackbird

A paddock leading down to a narrow river

winding through the Somerset Levels,

a solitary woman strolling in the summer evening sun.


A blackbird’s song heard nearby,

the woman’s eyes search the hedges for its origin,

no blackbird discovered in the foliage.


But what is that boldly sat upon the fencepost,

though not black,

singing for all his might the familiar sound?


A blackbird in name, in form but not in colour!

Albino, red-eyed, bold as brass,

defying incredulity with his evening song.


An albino blackbird? A graphic contradiction.

A concrete phantom, living, pulsing, flying

and watching with daring eye.


Daring to exist, daring the woman to believe,

daring to live in its prejudiced world,

the whitebird sang, loud and joyful.


The woman came more often then,

to that calm spot where meadow met meandering river.

She longed to see him again.


Three times he granted her heart-felt wish,

though she dared not hope too much.

The third was when, tearful and sad, she


turned towards the house to leave for ever,

an aching heart to see him no more,

in her mind an urgent chant ‘say goodbye, please...say goodbye!’


Out of the calm silence, as she despaired,

his lifting melody of evening cheer, louder than ever,

just for her, sped across the space


to kiss her heart, to gladden her eye,

leaving a gratefulness, an enchantment which endures,

which will endure longer than he or I.


An Idyllic Setting

A leisurely stroll, down through the upper paddock....

A leisurely stroll, down through the upper paddock....

...to the lower stretch down to the river

...to the lower stretch down to the river

The most precious bird perched there and touched my soul

The most precious bird perched there and touched my soul

Facts on Albino or Partial Albino Animals

Albino birds and animals have pink eyes; the colour in the eyes comes from blood vessels behind the eyes and is not pigmentation.

Leucism can be confused with albinism. Leucism occurs when colouring chemicals are present in the body of the bird, though not present in the feathers. The feathers are white but the eyes are still dark.

Partial albinism can occur; you might see blackbirds with a smaller or larger degree of white feathers.

Albino blackbirds are rare.


More about Blackbirds

  • The blackbird is the most numerous breeding bird in the British Isles, with a population of around 6 million pairs.
  • The highest breeding densities are to be found in small urban parks and residential areas.
  • The European population has been estimated at between 38 and 55 million pairs.
  • The only European country with no breeding blackbirds is Iceland; small numbers do occur there in the winter.
  • The reason for its success is its adaptability, for it is equally at home in a town park or suburban garden as it is in a remote Welsh wood.
  • Blackbirds are what is known as sexually dimorphic, which means that the plumage of the female is completely different from that of the male.
  • The song of the blackbird is arguably the most beautiful and best-loved of any British bird, as well as being the most familiar.
  • The first blackbird song of the year can usually be heard at the end of January or early February, though urban birds often start earlier.
  • Studies have shown that the first birds to sing are cocks that were hatched the year before. The older birds do not start singing until well into March.
  • Blackbirds typically like to sing after rain.
  • The song period continues well into the summer, but it is unusual to hear sustained song much after the middle of July.
  • The song ‘Sing a song of Sixpence, a pocket full of rye, four-and-twenty blackbirds, baked in a pie’ was actually a coded message used to recruit crew members for the notorious 18th-century pirate Blackbeard.
  • The majority of English blackbirds seldom move any distance from where they were hatched.
  • British birds are joined in winter by large numbers of migrants from Europe, mainly Scandinavia, the Baltic States, Russia and Germany.
  • The most common causes of death for ringed blackbirds are cats and cars.
  • It takes a pair of blackbirds between 11 and 14 days to make a nest. Most of the work is done by the female.
  • It is only the female that incubates the eggs, but the male helps feed his offspring.
  • Scottish blackbirds are usually two weeks behind their English counterparts when it comes to nest building and egg laying.
  • Blackbirds have been successfully introduced to south-eastern Australia and New Zealand.
  • Attempts to establish blackbirds in New York and Oregon in the 19th-century both failed.
  • The oldest ringed blackbird recovered was over 20 years old.

http://www.rspb.org.uk/community/wildlife/f/13609/t/8956.aspx

Sightings of Albino Birds/Animals

© 2013 Ann Carr

Comments

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 14, 2020:

Thank you, Denise. It was amazing and something I shall never forget. It inspired me to poetry rather than prose, as nature often does.

I appreciate your visit.

Ann

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on September 13, 2020:

What a rare and wonderful sight. It must have been a thrill. I'm glad you commemorated the moment in verse. Blessings,

Denise

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 18, 2016:

Thanks, Alun. Yes, it is a metaphor for the human world too. Animals are not often kind to 'mutations' but are probably better than many humans! I've known greenfinches to vary in shades of green too; I suppose some birds have that wide gradation, like buzzards and a few other birds of prey.

Thanks for visiting; good to hear from you.

Ann

Greensleeves Hubs from Essex, UK on September 12, 2016:

A lovely visual image conjured by the poem Ann, of a walk in the countryside and an unexpected encounter. And a poem which can also be seen as a metaphor ...

'daring to live in its prejudiced world,

the whitebird sang, loud and joyful'

... for anyone socially disadvantaged, different, and yet deep down the same as everyone else, boldly proclaiming their right to exist.

A long time ago, I had a greenfinch which used to visit a feeding station in the garden. It was definitely a greenfinch, but the body colour was not olive green, but creamy yellow, with the normal bright yellow wing stripe. Not exactly albino, but very unusual! Alun

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on March 16, 2014:

Thank you, DDE, for your kind comment and the votes. Although the blackbird is very common here, the albino is a rarity and I feel so privileged to have seen it. It left its mark on me as you can see. I appreciate your visit.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 16, 2014:

An interesting and so informative hub on this lovely bird I never heard of it but your well-explained hub told me everything in detail. The photos are so beautiful. Your hubs are thoroughly researched and with a great layout in presentation voted up.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on March 07, 2014:

Thanks DDE for your lovely comments and the vote. I'm passionate about nature so I guess I use it a lot in my hubs! I appreciate your visit, as always. Ann

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 07, 2014:

Beautiful photos presented with this informative and interesting hub your focus on nature is endless voted up!

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on February 28, 2014:

manatita44: Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I am a nature lover but this is the most amazing natural occurrence I've experienced and every detail is etched on my memory.

I appreciate your visit. All the best to you. Ann

manatita44 from london on February 28, 2014:

Very beautiful and captivating. A true nature lover, I suppose but most certainly an eye for detail. Shalom!

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on February 21, 2014:

Thank you so much D.A.L, for your kind comment. I up-dated the photos only yesterday as I found some that I took at the time. I'm so glad you enjoyed this and I appreciate your visit. Ann

Dave from Lancashire north west England on February 21, 2014:

Beautifully done enhanced by your fantastic choice of images. The poetry was beautiful also. Really enjoyed this work. Voted up and beautiful.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on January 27, 2014:

Dolores, I'm glad you enjoyed this. It was indeed a surprise sighting and an emotional one. It still brings joy and wonder when I think about it, as well as tears! Ann

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on January 27, 2014:

Hi Ann, I loved your poem and love how you added pertinent information. As a bird lover myself, I can understand how moving this sighting must have been for you. There is nothing like a surprise sighting!

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on November 16, 2013:

pocono foothills: thanks for your comment and I'm sorry I'm late in replying but for some reason I didn't get a notification. That's a strange version of abinoism, that skunk! Isn't nature amazing? I greatly appreciate you stopping by and telling us your story. Ann

John Fisher from Easton, Pennsylvania on November 12, 2013:

As a young child, I had an albino rabbit as a pet (until a bear broke into it's cage and ate it). I saw an albino skunk once when I lived in the Pocono Mountains, near my house. That was very strange, because it was white with black stripes, instead of black with white stripes.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on October 25, 2013:

Thank you, chef-de-jour. Glad you enjoyed it. Ann

Andrew Spacey from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK on October 25, 2013:

Albinos are very special aren't they? Outsiders and yet carrying with them such rare energy.

Thank you for the poem - taking me down to the water to meet this bird was a very enjoyable experience.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on October 05, 2013:

Thank you Eddy for your lovely comment and vote. Glad you enjoyed it. You have a great weekend too. Off to France tomorrow for a week or so, then back for some more hubs! Ann

Eiddwen from Wales on October 05, 2013:

I love anything to do with nature and this gem was a treat.

Voting up and looking forward to many more.

Enjoy your weekend.

Eddy.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on October 05, 2013:

Thank you Rosemay50 for your kind comment. It was indeed a special treat, like being in another magical world.

Rosemary Sadler from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand on October 04, 2013:

Beautifully written. I have never seen an albino bird it must have been quite a special treat for you

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on October 03, 2013:

CraftytotheCore: I didn't realise at the time but apparently they are very rare. I was so lucky to catch sight of it once, let alone regularly. Thank you so much for your lovely comment. Ann

CraftytotheCore on October 03, 2013:

I have never known of an albino blackbird. This was beautifully written and illustrated! Just wonderful.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on October 03, 2013:

Gypsy Rose Lee: Thank you so much for your compliments and for the votes. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Ann

Gypsy Rose Lee from Daytona Beach, Florida on October 03, 2013:

Voted up and awesome. Love the pictures. What a fascinating bird and you're poetry is wonderful.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on October 02, 2013:

old albion: Thanks, Graham, for your kind words. It was such a delightful event, I feel privileged to have experienced it. Ann

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on October 02, 2013:

BlossomSB: Thank you very much for your comment. Yes, it must be a great problem in the tropics, added to the stigma of albinism, whether you are animal or human. I love kookaburras - I saw many when visiting Queensland but never an albino. Appreciate you stopping by. Ann

Graham Lee from Lancashire. England. on October 02, 2013:

Hi Ann. I echo what Bill says above. I was a delight to read together with your delightful photographs.

Graham.

Bronwen Scott-Branagan from Victoria, Australia on October 01, 2013:

A lovely poem and an interesting hub. I have seen an albino kookaburra, but it is not easy for them to survive as they are so visible to predators. I've also visited a family in PNG where some of the people were albinos. I should think it would be very difficult living in the tropics without the pigment in the skin to protect, too.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on October 01, 2013:

Elias Zanetti: thank you so much for your lovely comment. It was indeed a wonderful experience. I appreciate you stopping by. Ann

Elias Zanetti from Athens, Greece on October 01, 2013:

Should be a great experience Ann and you transformed it into a wonderful poem! Many thanks!

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on October 01, 2013:

Tuatha: Thanks for reading and leaving such a lovely comment. I love that word - happenstance!

Mhatter99: Thank you for the compliment and for taking the time to read. Glad you enjoyed it.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on October 01, 2013:

cam8510: thank you so much for your comments. Yes, it's a lot to do with connecting with the surroundings and is very uplifting. Do write about it; I'll look forward to reading it. Ann

Martin Kloess from San Francisco on October 01, 2013:

Remarkably expressed. Thank you for this.

Kari Shinal from AZ on September 30, 2013:

What a lovely description in contradiction, nature, survival, and pure happenstance. Loved it. Ty Ann.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on September 30, 2013:

Ann, thank you for sharing this wonderful experience. I connected strongly with both parts, the sense of kinship with both the place and the creatures which inhabit the place. I've been out west for several months working a temporary job and I have spent a great deal of time in the wilderness surrounded by beauty and wild animals. It is a special feeling. I may have to write more about it.

Ann Carr (author) from SW England on September 30, 2013:

Thank you so much, bill. Praise from you is a great compliment. You've made my day!

Hope you have a great week. Ann

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 30, 2013:

What a great hub, Ann! The introduction was perfect, and then some facts about the bird, and then a lovely poem to finish it all off. Well done my friend.

bill

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