stacey nahdee was surprised and a little puzzled when a bird as white as the driven snow appeared in his backyard.
"we were throwing out bread crumbs and i looked up and there it was," said the aamjiwnaang first nation resident. "i knew it was an albino, but that's all i knew."
nahdee grabbed a camera and shot video of the ghostly bird as it flew from tree to tree one day last week.
malcolm boyd, the president of lambton wildlife, has identified the bird as a blue jay, albeit a bleached and blueless one.
"it's fabulous to see something like that," malcolm boyd said. "it's extraordinary to see a white blue jay."
experts agree that on the rarity of such a bird, but are divided over its survival prospects.
in a recent sun media column, birdwatcher tom hayman said all-white birds are an easy mark for predators and often have weak eyes and other defects.
but alf rider, one of sarnia-lambton's most respected birders, believes sarnia's white jay can live a normal life.
"i would think it'd do all right. it's at least six months old now and could be 18 months," he noted.
if it's a male, however, the genetic abnormality could interfere with his love life. female blue jays looking for a date seek out big crests and bright colours.
in the video, the eyes of the jay do not appear pink. if so, it is not a true albino but is technically known as "leucistic."
whatever the case, the appearance of an all-white animal in nature has special meaning for aboriginal cultures, nahdee said.
"they're considered sacred messengers. it's a good omen."
the white jay is actually the second albino nahdee has seen this winter. about a month ago he came across an albino squirrel near marthaville, he said.
"just by being here, they're bringing a message."