©Pat Brand
This rare albino crow was one of two recently spotted in East Vancouver.

When Pat Brand and his wife first spotted a white bird in their flowerbed two weeks ago, they thought it was a pigeon or a seagull.

But after taking a closer look, they knew something was different about the young bird.

"It still had the fluffy feather on its side, so I knew it was a fledgling. But it was pure white, real pretty, even the beak, but with distinctive pink eyes," said Brand on Thursday morning.

Brand has since learned from neighbours that the young crow was one of two recently spotted on the 5900 block of Lancaster Street. Wildlife officials told him the crows appear to have a rare genetic mutation that makes them albino, he said Thursday morning.

At first the couple was concerned that predators might get the young bird, which did not appear able to fly.

But when Brand moved in to take some photos, they soon noticed a group of six crows protecting the fledgling by aggressively swooping and squawking, Brand said.

Officials at a wildlife shelter told him that the birds would be safe, and were likely in the process of learning to fly under the watchful eye of the other crows.

Brand said he and his neighbours have since seen the albino crows occasionally in the area, perching happily with the other, darker crows.

Last week, two white ravens were spotted in Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island. Those birds have blue eyes and are not albinos.

In March, a white orca sent researchers scrambling for their cameras after the nearly mythic creature was spotted during a research expedition near Alaska's Aleutian Islands.