A rare white and brown magpie has been spotted in Kingaroy by an eagle-eyed local teen who's described the encounter as "enchanting".
The unusual bird was foraging with black and white magpies on the side of a road when it caught the attention of 14-year-old Rhapsody.
"We were driving and I asked mum to turn around because I swore I had seen an albino magpie," she said.
After pulling over, Rhapsody and her mum jumped out of the car to get a better look.
At first the bird was "a little sceptical", but once it realised the inquisitive pair meant no harm, it warmed up to them.
"The closest he came to me was about 30 centimetres. It was quite heartwarming to see it up close. I closely examined its feathers, feet and beak," Rhapsody said.
"I had never seen a white or brown magpie in my life. The experience was amazing and it had made my stressful day 100 times better.
"We had to leave because we had places to be, but I can tell you this: it was an enchanting experience."
Vet Dr Terry Martin, a leading authority on avian colour mutations and genetics, said it was a rare find.
"There's always a low incidence [of these birds]. I couldn't tell you the exact percentage, [but] any of these things are rare," Dr Martin said.
Dr Martin said the magpie appeared to have a type of albinism - though a genetic test was the only way to be certain.
"That bird's melanin pigment, which is what creates blacks, hasn't been formed correctly and is altered to a shade of brown," he said.
"That alteration to the pigment type that's going into the plumage and the change of pigment in things like feet and eyes defines it as a type of albinism."
The scientific term is 'imperfect albinism' - a form of albinism that's not complete, as opposed to the total albinism of a red eyed, white animal.
The vet says the term 'albino' tends to be used as a description of appearance rather than a description of process, whereas the term 'albinism' describes a mutation that is part of the pigment production process that has been altered.
Dr Martin said birds with albinism were at disadvantage when it came to survival.
"Generally, in most wild birds, there is only a single individual that might survive in an area for a few years," he said.
"Sometimes they get picked on by their own species because they look different, and also, if they're subject to predators, the predators will often pick them out because they stand out to the eye. Magpies don't have a lot of predators, but sometimes birds like hawks will take them."
They may also find it hard to find a mate, Dr Martin said.
"Part of evolution is you pick what you think is attractive and species look the way they do because the species thinks that's the ideal attractiveness," he said.
"When a mutation appears, the opposite sex thinks, 'I don't like you with your fancy hair colour, so I'm going to stick to the black and white that I know."
Nevertheless, Rhapsody is holding out hope that she will see the white and brown magpie again.
IN THE NEWS:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.