Q. Could I have seen an albino sparrow at my feeder?

As the photo here shows, we do see albino birds of various species from time to time in our area. Because albinism is a rare genetic trick that happens in wildlife (and humans) we tend to see it in the more common species. The greater the number of birds, the greater the chance for rarities to show up. I have seen albino robins, grackles, House Sparrows and much to my surprise one day, a Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Even more frequently than pure albinos, we often see partial albinos. Albinism can be limited to just a couple of feathers or large patches like the entire head or wing. The first time I saw this was in college when our class saw a Boat-tailed Grackle with one white wing. Unfortunately, albinism isn't a successful path to a long life for birds. Predators often find these individuals more easily as they do tend to stick out in a crowd.

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