White peacock spotted on the loose on P.E.I.?

While driving from Morell to Charlottetown to attend a birthday party, 29-year-old Cheryl Edmunds saw something so surprising she just had to pull over to take some photos.

Peacock seen near Route 2 in Savage Harbour area

This white peacock was spotted on Route 2 in the Savage Harbour area Monday afternoon. (Submitted by Cheryl Edmunds)

An unusual bird was spotted in the Savage Harbour area on Monday afternoon — a large white bird resembling a white peacock.

Cheryl Edmunds, 29, caught a glimpse of the bird while driving from Morell to Charlottetown to attend a birthday party and pulled over to take some photos.

I'm sure somebody paid quite a bit of money for that bird so they'd probably like to get it back.- Dwaine Oakley

Dwaine Oakley, a learning manager for the Wildlife Conservation Technology program at Holland College who also teaches bird identification, identified the bird Edmunds spotted as a white peacock.

He said it's likely the bird lives in captivity.

"Something like that, roughly the size of a turkey on the side of the road with a great big long streaming tail, would sure be quite a sight and stick out like a sore thumb on our landscape," said Oakley. 

"To find it out in the wild would be pretty much unheard of. They're not a species that's local to P.E.I."

Oakley believes it's likely someone's pet because a white peacock would be raised in an aviary.

"They're held in zoos or local collections by private bird owners so this is probably a bird that's escaped or just wandered out," said Oakley.

"I'm sure it's just out roaming similar to the one was last fall."

A bird expert says white peacocks are not found in the wild on P.E.I., so it's probably someone's escaped pet. (Submitted by Cheryl Edmunds)

How common is a white peacock?

Oakley said any animal that's fully white or albino is quite rare in the wild.

An albino peacock would lack any pigment, and have a whitish bill and pink or red eyes. It's not clear what colour the eyes of the bird spotted on P.E.I. are.

Oakley said many of the birds are sold online, adding that they're selectively bred so not entirely unheard of.

"One that's fully white was definitely selectively bred for that style and I'm sure somebody paid quite a bit of money for that bird so they'd probably like to get it back," said Oakley. 

Some peacocks, he said, have a variation between white and blue patches. 

CBC News has reached out to multiple bird owners on P.E.I. and hasn't been able to track down the bird's owner. 

A bird resembling a white peacock was seen darting across Route 2 in Savage Harbour area Monday afternoon. (Submitted by Cheryl Edmunds)

How did it escape and how will it survive?

Oakley said caged birds sometimes escape when their feathers grow back before the owner can clip them again and the bird discovers it's regained the ability to fly.

The bird would fare well in temperatures at this time of year as the species is originally from India and is used to warm weather, said Oakley.

In the winter, however, it would be a different story.

Even though it's a raised cage bird, its instincts would remain intact, meaning the bird would stay alert and wouldn't approach people or animals, including natural predators like coyotes and foxes. 

If the bird encountered a predator it couldn't outrun, Oakley said it would most likely roost in a tree until the danger passed.

"[But] it certainly wouldn't help this individual being all white in a green and brown landscape."