Luke the leucistic Canada Goose is back.
OK, the goose doesn’t have a name, but a local amateur photographer captured a photo of a Canada Goose at Cultus Lake last week with a rare genetic condition called leucism (pronounced LUKE-ism) that affects birds, mammals and reptiles.
The result is pale colouring either in patches or, as in the case of this goose over all the feathers.
Leucism is often mistaken with albinism, but it is not the same. A leucistic bird still has normal eye and beak colour, and the discolouration may be only in patches. Albinism means an animal has no pigment anywhere at all.
William Walsh and his friend Morgan Brown were at Cultus Lake taking a walk when they saw a flock of geese and spotted, ahem, Luke.
”It was quite amazing to see this bird with its rare condition,” Walsh said of the goose that Brown photographed. “Upon further research, there’s very few sightings and its quite rare to see one, let alone a fully white one.”
But this is not Luke’s first visit to Chilliwack.
Whether it’s the same goose or not has not been verified, but in 2020 amateur photographer William Snow captured photos of a Canada Goose that almost looked like a ghost.
“When I saw it I could not believe my eyes,” Snow said. “I thought the crow was the only one but from the info it is rare.”
The crow Snow referred to is a white crow well-known among Chilliwack bird watchers that has been spotted for years, mostly in the Sardis Park area.
According to Michael Stein in a National Audobon Society “BirdNote” report about leucism, he explains the difference between the condition and albinism.
“Albinos are entirely white with pink eyes and skin. Albinism has a different origin, too: problems with an enzyme called tyrosinase (pronounced ty-RAHS-in-ayse). Problems with tyrosinase lead to problems making melanin, the pigment that gives skin, feathers, and eyes their colour.”
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