Rare White Ravens Nest On Vancouver Island

White appears to be the new black among the fashion-savvy birds and wildlife in B.C.

Two white ravens have taken up summer residence in Qualicum along with their three black siblings, says bird expert and author Mike Yip of Nanoose Bay.

He photographed the birds last week in the area of the (aptly named) Ravensong pool and ball fields.

Another pair of white juvenile ravens was spotted last year in the area, said Yip. He said there's a good chance the four white ravens came from the same parents.

"What are the odds of two pairs of parents within a kilometre of each other carrying the same, rare genetic defect?" said Yip in an e-mail to the Times Colonist.

Other white ravens have also been spotted in previous years at the Morningstar subdivision, a few kilometres east of Qualicum.

"It's not unreasonable to assume that the genetic defect has been passed on to the current parents," said Yip.

These birds are not albinos since they have blue and not pink eyes, he said. Rather, they're likely similar to the black bears of the central coast which carry a mutant gene that makes their coats white.

A Saskatchewan couple hiking the in East Sooke Park reported sighting of these "spirit bears" on the coast trail.

While the hotspot for spirit bears is Princess Royal Island, the concentration of white ravens is much closer, in Qualicum.

They appear to enjoy attention from people taking their photographs, said Yip.

"Walkers and joggers in Qualicum have been constantly amazed at the ivory twins and have accorded them celebrity status.

"Unlike their older and wiser parents, the white ravens and their three siblings have . . . provided close-up looks for pedestrians and photographers."

The chance of the public seeing the white ravens now is good, he said, because they usually stay with the parents for a few months before flying off on their own.

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