Rare white starling spotted in southern Scotland

Stunning photographs show a rare white starling standing out in a murmuration.

Monday, 25th May 2020, 1:23 pm
Updated Monday, 25th May 2020, 1:24 pm

The bird’s white feathers are caused by a lack of melanin - a pigment responsible for black and grey colouring in the feathers.

Often birds with a different colouring can be ‘kicked out’ of the group for drawing unwanted attention from prey.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Caroline Legg, 59, was stunned when she spotted the white starling - and managed to snap photos twice.

This rare leucistic European starling was spotted and photographed by Caroline Legg when out on a walk near her home in Dumfries and Galloway
This rare leucistic European starling was spotted and photographed by Caroline Legg when out on a walk near her home in Dumfries and Galloway

Starlings are at risk from predators, but it appeared the unusual creature had been accepted despite its appearance.

Wildlife lover Caroline was walking in a field near her home in Annan, Dumfries and Galloway, when she spotted the starling - and saw it perched in a tree three days later.

Gran-of-six Caroline said: “It’s rare to see the birds fully white, this is the first I have ever seen.

“I was walking near a field which had a big flock of starlings in it.

Birds suffering from leucism lack the pigment melanin and so appear white

"I thought I saw one that was part white, and then when the group took off in the air and were flying overhead I noticed it was fully white.

“It was the same size as a normal starling and it was with a large group of the birds both times I saw it.

“The group could have kicked it out because it’s a different colour.

"Starlings are prone to be taken by predators, and because it’s white it’s more likely to get picked up.

Leucistic birds can find themselves ousted from a group for drawing unwanted attention from prey but this one seems to have been accepted as one of the gang

“But it looks like the crowd has accepted it.

“It could be sticking with the group for protection.

“Two days later I was walking in the same area and saw it again.”

The mum-of-two, who is retired, added: “It had landed on a crabapple tree we were walking past so I think it was meant to be.”

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers - and consequently the revenue we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.

Subscribe to scotsman.com and enjoy unlimited access to Scottish news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit https://www.u2swisshome.com/subscriptions now to sign up.

Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.

Joy Yates

Editorial Director


Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.