You could have knocked Derek and Sandra Shewan down with a feather when a rare white bird swooped onto their patio.

At first they though the starling they christened Snowy was an albino but they then spotted it did not have pink eyes.

The couple, from Hemlock Avenue, Huntington, discovered the bird was a Leucistic starling, sightings of which are occasionally reported in national wildlife magazines.

Experts say Leucism is a very unusual condition whereby the pigmentation cells in an animal or bird fail to develop properly.

This can result in unusual white patches appearing on the animal, or, more rarely, completely white creatures.

Retired Royal Mail sorting office worker Derek, 66, said: “From what I have read it is more rare than an albino.

“We have hundreds of starlings and blackbirds. We feed them currants and sultanas and they keep coming back.”

His wife Sandra, 56, took an immediate fancy to the new arrival who she named Snowy.

It is too early to say if the bird is a he or she because it is still sporting its juvenile plumage.

Derek added: “We spotted it eight to ten days ago and he is still coming back. It just dropped down onto the patio where all the currants were.

“We have a rich array of birds. We did have a spotted woodpecker three years ago. But this is the rarest I think.”