The extremely rare albino Ruby-throated Hummingbird has been frozen in time in a series of beautiful photos – taken by a 15-year-old boy.
The stunning pictures of the unique creature were captured at a park in Staunton, Virginia, by schoolboy Marlin Shank.
The American teenager was ‘shocked and pleased’ when his father told him that the snow-white bird he had snapped in a park was near-extinct.
Flying high: The rare albino Hummingbird was caught on film by 15-year-old Marlin in Virginia in the U.S.
Its unusual pink eyes, feet and beak are caused by blood vessels exposed because of the bird’s lack of melanin – a chemical that normally gives feathers their colour.
Dad Kevin, who runs Nature Friend magazine, said: ‘It sure has caused a flutter among bird watchers.
‘I was amazed when Marlin showed me the pictures and I saw it was an albino. It was unbelievable to see.’
Soaring talent: The outstanding amateur photographer snapped the extremely rare sight in his local park on a Canon EOS1D Mark 4
The incredible images – caught on Marlin’s Canon EOS1D Mark 4 with a 600ml F4 lens – show the rare creature flying past a bed of pretty purple flowers.
Talented Marlin’s quick reflexes mean the whole world will have the chance to squawk at the mesmerising spectacle – which even wildlife enthusiasts usually never get to see in a lifetime.
The teenager, named after another visually arresting animal, said: ‘I didn’t realise how rare it was at first. I thought it was just any other bird.
‘It was only when I showed the pictures to my dad he pointed out that it was in fact an albino Ruby-throated Hummingbird. I was shocked and pleased.
‘Most people don’t ever get to see one in person so it is great to have had the chance to photograph one close up.’
Marlin’s feathered friends are in danger for a number of possible reasons.
Their pale colouring makes them more visible targets for predators, and their feathers are weaker than those with pigment, and so more likely to break during migration.
White birds may also have other genetic anomalies that make them more susceptible to disease or quirks of their environment.
But they have clawed their way back into the public eye through these impressive snaps.
Marlin’s 46-year-old father Mr Shank, from Dayton, Virginia, added: ‘It is a great achievement for Marlin to be able to say he captured such a rare event. He is a very promising photographer.
Winging it: The gorgeous albino birds are particularly vulnerable because of their lack of camouflage and weakened pale feathers
‘There has been another recent reported albino hummingbird seen in Colorado, but to see one out this way in Virginia is even less common.’
Experts are working to put bands on the hummingbirds and track their migration towards Central America.
And brilliant young Marlin looks set to soar into a stellar photography career.