San Juan Island photographers Chris Teren and Traci Walter spotted a rare sight while photographing eagles feeding on the Nooksack River on Sunday. One of the eagles has white spots on its feathers, a condition known as "leucism."
According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, leucism is the unusual condition in which the pigmentation cells in an animal or bird fail to develop properly. This can result in unusual white patches appearing on the animal, or, more rarely, completely white creatures.
Cornell says leucism is relatively unusual in birds. From 2000-2006, Project FeederWatch participants reported fewer than 1000 leucistic birds. Given that participants report about 5.5 million birds each season, the percentage of leucistic birds being reported is very small.