Rare brown crow spotted in Plymouth
A Plymouth woman has captured photos of what she believes to be a rare brown crow in Plymouth.
Crows are generally black, but a genetic condition called leucism - similar to albinism - can cause them to lose some of their colour pigmentation.
This means that some of the feathers that should be black may instead be brown - or sometimes in patches of white.
A leucistic bird featuring all-one colour is even rarer - with patches of abnormal feathers the more usual result of leucism.
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Cheryl Garniss, an instructor at Plymouth's Art of Dance studio, first spotted the crow a few months ago - but has been unable to get a clear picture of it.
She said: "The picture was taken this morning, Saturday, at about 8.30am.
"I first saw it when we moved to the area in May, so I couldn't say when it appeared."
Art of Dance studio owner Sam Remmer, who first saw the crow last month, said: "Plymouth has a leucistic crow - these are very rare and very pretty."
She added: "I first saw it two weeks ago in Patna Park, it has also been spotted in Pennycomequick."
Sightings of leucistic crows are uncommon. The condition itself is rare and the change of colour can make the animals an easier target for predators.
The lack of melanin in the feathers can also reduce their weather-protection.
Plumage also plays a part in bird courtship rituals, making it hard for leucistic birds to find a mate.
Leucistic crows are also difficult to identify clearly, as the birds can turn out to be the closely related jay, or a juvenile jackdaw.
The British Trust for Ornithology carried out a survey in 2011 and found 49 sightings of crows with abnornmal plumage across the UK in one month - ranging from small patches of white feathers to full albinism.
A spokesman for the trust said: "Leucism is a very unusual condition whereby the pigmentation cells in an animal or bird fail to develop properly. This can result in unusual white patches appearing on the animal, or, more rarely, completely white creatures."