Rare ghostly fantail spotted in Whangateau cemetery

A new resident in Whangateau caused quite a flutter online after its image was captured by professional bird photographer Edin Whitehead.

A ghostly white fantail is inhabiting the Whangateau cemetery and can be seen most mornings.

According to Edin, who is working on her PhD in seabird ecophysiology and conservation, the bird is leucistic, meaning it is missing some of its pigment.

Unlike albinism, leucistic birds retain some colouring and this fantail has black eyes and brown shadowy markings.

“It’s quite a rare condition, but can be seen more often among oystercatchers, and there are even cinnamon coloured tuis,” she says.

Leucistic birds are rare because it is a chance genetic mutation. Their white colouring also makes them susceptible to predation because they are easily noticed.

In order for Edin to capture it with her camera, she visited three times and spent five to six hours watching until she got a clear shot.

“Visiting it two months on, it’s great to see that it is fat and healthy. Hopefully, it will pass on its genes and we will have more of them,” she says.

See edinz.com