Until a Dutch explorer set foot in Western Australia in 1697, everyone thought that all swans were white. Only then did they realise that there were indeed black swans, and the expression, “a black swan event” was coined to indicate a totally unexpected occurrence. And the black swan went on to become the symbol of Western Australia!
So it was similarly unexpected when farm manager, Rob, spotted a white pheasant in our woodland a couple of weeks ago. White pheasants are quite rare compared to their gaudily coloured relatives, but not unknown.
And unlike their cousins, the ptarmigan and grouse, the pheasant’s white plumage is not a winter disguise to enable them to pass unnoticed on snow-covered hills. It is their all year round plumage colour.
There are two different types of white pheasant, those that are albino, and those that are leucistic. The former have pink eyes and the latter dark eyes. Over the years we have seen a number of partially white pheasants on the farm, but this is the first time that we have seen one totally white, without any brown or black on it. And Rob was fortunate to be able to take photographs of it.
Let us hope that this strange white pheasant goes undisturbed and unharmed, but not un-noticed, by walkers using our farm footpaths. White pheasants are usually given “diplomatic immunity” by shooters, and, on organised shoots, anyone mistakenly shooting a white pheasant is levied a very heavy fine, usually given to charity!