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White Cardinal Attracts Bird Watcher's Eye In Sand Springs

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Bird watcher Mike Waresback named the leucistic bird 'Spooky' because he was skittish. Bird watcher Mike Waresback named the leucistic bird 'Spooky' because he was skittish.
Waresback has his back yard set up for birds and other wildlife, with motion-activated cameras. Waresback has his back yard set up for birds and other wildlife, with motion-activated cameras.
Cardinals are his favorite bird, Waresback said, probably because he's a St. Louis Cardinals fan. Cardinals are his favorite bird, Waresback said, probably because he's a St. Louis Cardinals fan.

By Rick Wells, The News On 6

SAND SPRINGS, OK -- Every now and then viewers will send us a photograph that is so unusual it demands attention. That's what happened earlier this week with the photo of a bird – a mostly white cardinal.

Experts at the Sutton Avian Research Center say this anomaly is not rare but certainly uncommon.

Amateur bird watcher Mike Waresback calls the bird "Spooky."

I hoped to see the real thing, but when we got to his house Mike poured me a cup of coffee then told me I had missed him.

"I been seeing him about six weeks," Waresback said.

He said it took a long time to get the first picture. The bird seemed skittish, he said - thus the name Spooky.

Now he shows up a couple of times each day. Spooky loves the corn and sunflower seeds just like the other birds do.

There are Blue Jays woodpeckers and lots of cardinals.

"I love to watch the cardinals; they're my favorite bird," Waresback said. "I think because I like my Cardinals baseball team too."

Bird watcher Mike Waresback has some wildlife cameras mounted outside. They are activated by movement, and he's gotten night time pictures of the deer that come up to the house to eat the corn he puts out.

Mike believes Spooky lives in a thicket behind the bird watcher's house.

"He comes back in here and spends a lot of time," Waresback said.

Dan Reinking, senior biologist at the Sutton Avian research Center in Bartlesville, says the bird is not a true albino but leucistic. Leucism is a condition that prevents pigment cells from developing - not rare but certainly uncommon.

Mike watches the birds from his kitchen window, and when he sees something unusual like Spooky he's ready with his camera. He got several new pictures when Spooky stopped by Wednesday for breakfast.

"It's really a neat experience to watch him," he said.

The bird experts tell us, there are reports of these leucistic birds in several species in Oklahoma every year.

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