A one-in-a-million hummingbird is calling the Cowichan Valley home. (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

A one-in-a-million piece of good news

Good news was in my own backyard

My husband is a bird watcher. Definitely not a professional one and I won’t even say an amateur one because it’s not like he takes binoculars on our hikes or sets his camera up at the marsh or anything. But he does get a kick out of spotting new birds and adding them to the list on his bird watching app. It’s a harmless hobby and he’d probably be embarrassed if he knew I was telling you about it so please don’t tell him you know.

Anyway, when we moved to our new house a couple of years ago we were disappointed that no black-capped chickadees ever visited our yard. They’re my favourite. I grew up with them in the trees behind my childhood house and while they aren’t really all that special or unique, they just feel like home. Their absence was a blow to our bird watching fun. Well, mine anyway. My husband soldiered on.

He set up some feeders: a suet one and a seed one and a couple hummingbird feeders. Every now and then we see a neat bird but nothing too unusual.

That is until the other day.

My husband looked out the back window and saw a one-in-a-million hummingbird.

Literally.

I asked the National Audubon Society.

Kenn Kaufman, Audubon’s field editor said that from the photos I sent, he couldn’t be positive but he thinks there’s a good chance it’s an Anna’s hummingbird.

(That was my husband’s assessment also. Maybe he is an amateur after all?)

“It looks to be the right shape, and that would be a common species around Duncan and elsewhere on southern Vancouver Island,” Kaufman said.

But it’s not your usual Anna’s. We see those all the time and we don’t all race to the window — unlike when we spot this one.

This is a white one.

“True albino hummingbirds are extremely rare, and very seldom documented in the wild,” Kaufman noted. “They’d be recognized by pure white feathers and pink eyes, feet, and bill. The bird in the photos looks like it’s a leucistic individual instead — lacking most, but not all, of the melanin pigment in the feathers.”

But here’s the thing: leucistic hummingbirds are rare, too!

“White hummingbirds are so stunning that when one is seen, it usually makes the news,” Kaufman said. “So we know that a very few white hummingbirds are reported practically every year, somewhere in North America. But I would guess that they make up only about one in a million individuals among the hummingbird population at large.”

How about that?! In my own backyard.

The Audubon Society’s media guy, Nicholas Gonzalez, sent me a link to their website featuring a story written about another leucistic Anna’s hummingbird spotted in California last year. Does that mean it could very well be ours (we’ve named it Lucy, although it could be male) is the first sighting of one this year?

So all this time I’ve been looking for good news stories out there in the community. But really all I needed to do is check out my own backyard.

sarah.simpson @cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

RDN says water in French Creek still potable despite levels of iron, manganese

Strategy to improve water quality being established

COVID-19: City of Parksville to open offices on June 1

Health and safety restrictions will be in place

Program at Parksville’s McMillan Arts Centre offers chance to connect art, environmentalism

MAC program works to create community arts installation in city

Questions remain as summer tourism approaches in Parksville Qualicum Beach

COVID-19: Association hopes residents continue to support local businesses

‘A bottomless well of love for people and communities’

Parksville Qualicum Beach News editor JR Rardon dies at age 61

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

B.C. businesses ‘can’t shoulder burden’ of COVID-19 sick pay

Trudeau’s plan should be tied to federal emergency aid

RCMP remind public to leave dogs chilling at home on hot days

Dogsafe has designed a Dog in a Hot Car Responder Checklist

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Another Asian giant ‘murder hornet’ found in Lower Mainland

This is the farthest east the invasive species has been found so far

B.C. girl left temporarily paralyzed by tick bite sparks warning from family

Mom says parents need to check their kids when they go camping

PHOTOS: Loved ones reunite at an oasis on closed U.S.-Canada border in Surrey

Officials closed the park in mid-March over coronavirus concerns

Feds delay national action plan for missing and murdered Indigenous women

Meanwhile, the pandemic has exacerbated the violence facing many Indigenous women and girls

Nanaimo senior clocked going 50 km/hr over limit says her SUV shouldn’t be impounded

RCMP say they can’t exercise discretion when it comes to excessive speeding tickets

Most Read