The Mystery of Crows with White Feathers

Crows with white they exist? 

When people think of crows, the first thing that comes to mind is their inky black feathers. However, there have been sightings of crow-like white birds that have left many people wondering, "Are there white crows?" 

Crows with white feathers are not just a figment of one's imagination. Though rare, they do exist in nature.


White Wings by June Hunter - crow with white feathers
Image by June Hunter - White Wing stops by in a flash of graphic black, white and red.  You can read many stories about White Wing in June Hunter's urban nature blog.

White Wing

In the case of White Wing, above, her flash of white is caused by a single feather that repeatedly grows at a twisted angle and shows as white when fully grown. She loses that feather several times a year, not just during the moulting season, but it always grows back in the same way — sticking out a little from the others and mostly white. Her outstanding white feather is most likely caused by a quirky feather follicle, whereas most white crows come by their unusual colouring via other paths.


Leucism in Crows

The first and most common reason for white (or light tan) colouring in a crow is leucism, a genetic condition characterized by a reduction in pigmentation. 

Birds affected by leucism have feathers with less or a complete lack of colour. This condition is distinct from albinism, where pigmentation is absent due to a genetic mutation. Albino crows would have entirely white feathers and red or pink eyes, while leucistic crows may have patches of white on their body and standard eye colour. A diet low in protein may result in leucism, so if you're planning on feeding the crows, a little bit of protein couldn't hurt. 


Partial Albinism in Crows

Another explanation for crows with white feathers is partial albinism. In this case, only some parts of a bird's body are affected by the lack of pigmentation, resulting in patches of white feathers. This occurrence is relatively rare compared to leucism.


What Is the Lifespan of an Albino Crow?

The lifespan of an albino crow is not well-documented due to the rarity of albinism in crows. But it's likely that they would live roughly as long as a typical crow with some potential variations due to health issues associated with albinism.

A regular North American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) can live up to eight years in the wild. However, crows can live well over 15 years. In captivity, crows can live up to 20 years or more. Many factors, such as predation, disease, and habitat, influence the lifespan of a crow.

Albino crows may face additional challenges that could impact their lifespan. For instance, their lack of pigmentation may make them more susceptible to UV damage, resulting in skin and eye problems. And their flashy white feathers may make them more visible to predators, increasing their risk of being attacked.

Considering these factors, the lifespan of an albino crow could be somewhat shorter than that of a typical crow. However, without substantial research and data on albino crows specifically, it would be difficult to provide an accurate estimation of their lifespan.


Crow vs. Magpie vs. Pied Crow

People often confuse white crows with other black and white crow-like birds such as magpies or pied crows. The magpie is a bird species commonly found in Europe and Asia. It is characterized by its striking black-and-white plumage. On the other hand, the pied crow (Corvus albus) is native to Africa and has a distinct white chest and neck contrasting with its black body. 


Pied Crows

Pied crows are quite large and have an average body length of about 45 cm or roughly 18 inches. Adult wingspans can reach a meter, but the average wingspan varies between 85 and 98 cm (33 to 39 cm). However, if you've seen what you think is a white crow, and you're not located in Africa, it's unlikely you've spotted a pied crow.


Did You See a White Crow?

A white crow sighting is an uncommon event due to its rarity. When someone does see a white crow, it can evoke various emotions and interpretations. In some cultures, a white crow is considered a symbol of transformation or spiritual awakening. Others view it as an omen or a sign of change. 


So Are There White Crows?

Yes! Crows with white feathers are a rare and fascinating phenomenon that has captured the curiosity of bird enthusiasts and the general public alike. Whether it's due to leucism, partial albinism, or another factor, these white crows stand out among their black-feathered counterparts. White crows (and ravens) have been spotted in recent years in various parts of British Columbia — in the Kootenay region, on the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island. 



This article was written by Colette Nichol with additional stories from crow and raven photographer and nature enthusiast June Hunter. Our aim with these short articles is to bring interesting crow, raven and bird facts to more online readers while also highlighting June Hunter's bird photography and designs. To read June Hunter's popular blog the Urban Nature Enthusiast, where she shares stories about crows and ravens, please click HERE.


Are You a Corvid Lover?

View a gallery of beautiful urban crows and fine art crow imagery by June Hunter. If you'd like to add some feather finery to your home, check out June's many bird art collections. 


Crow Art & Crow Landscapes

June Hunter is known for her crow photography and fine art prints. For more crow portraits, visit the Crow Characters Series. For moody landscapes featuring crow silhouettes and gorgeous blue textures, visit the Blue Crow Landscape Series



crow prints


Other Crow Articles

In the Midst of a Murder: Decoding the Fascinating Group Behaviour of Crows

Baby Crows: Everything You Need to Know about Corvid Fledglings

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