Nanoose Bay bird expert and photographer Mike Yip believes there are two sets of parents producing white ravens in the Parksville Qualicum Beach area.
On May 14, resident Bridget Flynn discovered a white raven with its four siblings in Coombs and informed Yip. He was able to take photos of the fledgling white raven on May 16.
Yip said he heard another report of a white raven in the area but was not able to track it down until an injured white raven was found and taken to the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre in Errington in late May. It confirmed Yip’s hunch that there is another set of parents producing white ravens in the area.
“To have one pair of common ravens producing white offspring is rare,” said Yip. “Having two pairs is incredible.”
Yip indicated the white ravens in the area are leucistic and are able to produce melanin as evidenced by the blue colour in their eyes.
“Leucism is hereditary so for every white raven produced, there is the possibility of two black siblings that carry the same recessive mutated gene,” Yip explained. “Over the course of 20 years there could be as many as 40 black ravens with the recessive gene. It would just be a matter of time before two of them mated.”
Yip also pointed out that leucism can also produced other factors such as disease.
“Without a DNA sample it is difficult to say if the injured raven is a product of heredity,” said Yip. “If it is, then there is the possibility of twice as many white ravens in coming years.”
Meanwhile the injured white raven that is now under the care of the recovery centre is on the mend, according to animal care technician Derek Downes.
“The white raven has completed its course of antibiotics and its body condition is slowly starting to improve,” said Downes. “As well it has started to pick at food on its own.”
There is no current timetable as to when the bird may be released back into the wild.
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