Distribution of affected birds
Almost 3000 sightings of birds with plumage irregularities have now been logged through the Abnormal Plumage Survey, encompassing large parts of Britain and Ireland. There are distinct aggregations around more urbanised areas – e.g. London, Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle-upon-Tyne – which could represent a biological effect but might also be influenced by greater numbers of observers in these locations. Interestingly, though, in some less densely populated areas, such as around Anglesey, large numbers of records have also been registered.
The most northerly records to date have been on Shetland, where a Blackbird with white feathers around its eyes, making it look like it was wearing spectacles, has been seen, as well as a House Sparrow and Starling with unusual white feathers. The most southerly record has been a white House Sparrow, seen in 2010 on St Mary’s, Isles of Scilly. A Great Tit with white outer tail feathers and a Starling with a white tail and rump, spotted in Lowestoft, Suffolk, represent our most easterly sightings to date; while an all-pale grey Hooded Crow in Macroom, Co. Cork, is the most westerly.
One bird, twelve journeys, 60 000 miles and invaluable scientific data: PJ the Cuckoo has left an incredible legacy.