An ornithologist in Gallatin, Tennessee was taken by surprise after a very unusual bird visited his garden. Scott Davis, a 67-year-old retiree, witnessed an extremely rare sight of a white cardinal.
Although he enjoyed bird watching most of his life, this was the first time Davis had encountered such a breathtaking sight. The bird—almost all white, with only its light red tail and wings—landed directly in Scott’s backyard. As he does every winter, Scott put seeds on the snow that covered his garden. However, he never expected to get such a glimpse.
“It’s actually the most beautiful bird I think I’ve ever seen,” Scott said. “It’s an unnatural color. Maybe that’s what makes it so pretty. It’s so strange and rare.”
Cardinals are usually bright red, but in this particular situation the white plumage is due to a rare condition called leucism, which results in a lack of pigmentation. Unlike albinism, this cardinal still had dark pigmentation in his eyes, but not on his features.
“Some of them maybe just have a little spot and some of them have even more white than the one I photographed,” Scott said. “Cardinals like sunflower seeds, so I threw a bunch of them on the snow and ice. That’s when he came. He was probably there between 10 and 15 minutes each time.”
Even though it was a very short visit, it was enough for Scott to take some adorable photos of the rare white cardinal. According to the ornithologist, once the bird flew away, it never returned. However, it’s never too late for such an incredible visit.