White Red-tailed Hawk, Bedford, MA, June 16, 2007
In June 1999 an emaciated white Red-tailed Hawk was discovered in a Bedford parking lot and brought to a wildlife rehabilitator. The bird was discovered to be a female, and was successfully brought back to health and released back in Bedford. Linda Cocca of Mass Audubon tells me she had received calls about a white Red-tail in this area as far back as 1992.
Since that time there have been many reports of this extraordinarily striking bird in the area of Route 3 from Burlington to Billerica. This abnormal plumage is called "leucism", a term many consider more accurate than "partial albino." A true albino would have pink eyes and pale bill and feet. The feathers on this bird appear to be entirely white except for some very pale buff feathers on the rump. The eyes are normally pigmented, but the legs appear much paler than the yellow legs of a normally-pigmented Red-tail.