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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Outdoors blog

White Christmas wood duck returns to Riverfront Park

WATERFOWL -- She’s back! A wood duck once again is bringing the “White Christmas” spirit to Riverfront park.

The mystery has been solved about the wood duck bringing a white Christmas spirit to Riverfront Park.

Some speculated it was an albino, others suggested the duck with the pink eye rings was a leucistic bird in disguise.

The bird has been feeding among the mallards for several weeks in the Spokane River between the Opera House and Carousel. Local birder Buck Domitrovich photographed what likely was the same bird last year at the park (left).

Wild wood ducks normally migrate away from the Spokane-North Idaho area around mid-October.  Most birders agreed this woodie might be the product of captive breeding, but nobody seemed to know for sure -- until local birding expert and breeder Dennis Dahlke chimed in.

"This white duck is a captive bred female wood duck," he said. "She is not albino, just a color variation.  Belonged to a friend of ours. Coyotes helped her escape when they killed most of the other ducks in that pen last winter."

The woody is smaller than the mallards she paddles around with, but she holds her own -- she's not afraid to take after bigger birds that get in her way.

Freak show: One birder emailed me with an interesting observation about the way many of us view wildlife:  "It's interesting to me that human freaks freak us out but other animal freaks turn us on," she said.

Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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