'Is it an albino crow?' Botanic Garden has a new species

An unusual species of bird has been discovered in the Royal Botanic Garden in Sydney. Staff and members of the public were quick to point out the rare pied currawong due to its pale "washed-out appearance".

Pied currawongs are found throughout eastern Australia and are often mistaken for a common magpie due to their jet black feathers and white undertail. Although the bird thrives in open woodlands, the species have adapted to live in urban areas.

At first, the Royal Botanic Garden had trouble identifying the bird, thinking it may have been "an albino crow". Wildlife expert Dr John Martin concluded that the pied currawong was suffering from leucism.

Leucism is a rare genetic condition that reduces the skin pigments in animals, which causes the skin to appear white. However, Dr Martin said, leucism is different to albinism.

"The difference is that traces of colour are present [in cases of leucism]. This pied currawong has small patches of coloured feathers...a washed-out appearance instead of a complete lack of colour like an albino bird".

Since the discovery, the Royal Botanic Garden has encouraged members of the public to help in naming the bird through its Facebook page. "Elsa, the Pied Currawong" one commenter said, referencing the protagonist from the popular disney movie Frozen.

The Royal Botanic Garden is now observing the bird, noting it has bred and is currently feeding two large and healthy chicks.

This story 'Is it an albino crow?' Botanic Garden has a new species first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.