One mother hen is worth two happy ducklings in the nest - Etcetera - 8/20/13


Pining away for chicks destined to never hatch, Sara the silkie cochin-cross chicken took to two mallard eggs like a duck to water.

“She desperately wanted to raise a family,” said Joanna Lanning, primary Pioneer Park Aviary caretaker. Sara was sitting on infertile eggs, so Joanna slipped two viable in-the-shell mallards into her nest instead.

Everything was just ducky after that. “She is a terrific mother and she did an excellent job of raising them.

Sara hatched them, mothered her web-footed youngsters and saw them launched. “They went to their new home on a creek last week,” Joanna said.

The Aviary’s been a hopping place this spring and summer for visitors and volunteers alike, Joanna said.

“Among the chirps from the newly hatched pheasant and peachicks, the resounding peal of the peacock’s call or the quiet quacks of a mother duck hen to her brood, visitors have added their oohs and aahs to the avian orchestra.”

“The Indian blue and white peacocks are eye-catching when they fan their tail-feathers for their hens.

“There have been countless children from year-end school field trips to summer recreation programs, out-of-town travelers and the locals who love to visit the feathered facility on a regular basis,” she said.

Visitors of all ages put their faces up to the glass windows to check on the offspring in the nursery. It has hosted several species of ducklings, pheasants and peachicks.

“Recently hatched ruddy ducklings are a big attraction and so are the thimble-sized coturnix quail chicks.”

The Hawaiian/nene geese raised two goslings this spring. The gangly teens are on view in the lower pond enclosure by the Rose Garden. “The aviary has been very successful in propagating this endangered species. Last year’s offspring now reside in Utah as part of a breeding loan program,” Joanna said.

Help in the spring and summer has come from Walla Walla University and Walla Walla Community College students and AmeriCorps volunteers who rolled up their sleeves to donate “many appreciated hours of pruning, weeding, removing and hauling vegetative debris, planting flowers and spreading sand in the pheasant enclosures. Their efforts have not only helped beautify the aviary but have made the environment healthier for the birds too.”

Walla Walla Valley Lioness members Lavonne Reser and Shareen Knowles recently installed a butterfly garden in a vacant bed between the cheer and Elliot’s pheasants’ enclosures. Assistance came from LaVonne’s grandsons Jon and Zach Gilbey, who prepared the area for planting. “The butterfly bushes are blooming now, attracting more natural visitors to the aviary.”

Dedicated 4-Hers Miriam Bennett and Makenzie Frost have made a difference too. Ranch & Home 4-H Club member Makenzie planted a flower bed near the donation box centrally located by the pheasant enclosures in the spring. “After the weather turned cold and many of the annuals succumbed, she replanted the bed. She has been keeping it weed-free and beautiful, and she has also been helping with the day-to-day chores like feeding and cleaning,” Joanna said.

Twice weekly, Miriam, a Dry Creek 4-H Club member, has assisted in the daily operations. “She was also instrumental in finding homes for the dozen or so rabbits that were abandoned in Pioneer Park one night last month. The rabbits were safely rounded up and placed in new homes. Many will be shown at the Walla Walla Fair & Frontier Days Aug. 28-Sept. 1, thanks to Miriam’s efforts.”

Friends of Pioneer Park Aviary held a successful yard sale in May to raise operating funds for the facility and are planning “An Evening of Feathers and Foliage” auction on Oct. 5 at the fairgrounds to raise additional funds.

Anyone can be a Friend of Pioneer Park Aviary for $10 a month, Joanna said. They have access to members-only events, an e-newsletter featuring a bird-of-the-month and aviary updates and a Friends of Pioneer Park Aviary decal. Visit for more information.

On Sept. 21, FOPPA will host a 30-year anniversary at the aviary from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the aviary “celebrating the last 30 years and looking forward to the next 100,” said Shane Laib, chairman of FOPPA..

Fellow Walla Wallan Joe Drazan and I have been curious about Chief Smoke, a carved wooden statue that used to stand sentry in front of Lutcher’s Cigar Store downtown. In particular, there seemed to be a paucity of images of the antique oak figure.

But Joe, a retired Whitman College librarian and intrepid researcher, found an article about the chief and a great photo to share. He has amassed thousands of such vintage images for his blog ( and his collections are on DVDs sold for $10 each as a fundraisers.

On Dec. 11, 1949, the U-B ran an item about and photo of the over-6-foot-tall chief, then owned by Byron Lutcher. Described as a museum piece, the chief was familiar to many who passed it by at 128 W. Main St. It was moved into the store and later relegated to the basement.

The article notes that some “wooden” Indians were too often cast of metal or molded from plaster. Chief Smoke, by contrast, was “well proportioned, attractively colored and has withstood the rigors of time well.”

It had been shipped around Cape Horn from New York to San Francisco when Jacob Lutcher bought it there in 1881. It came north to Walla Walla from California by boat, wagon and train. Byron’s son Lewis Lutcher was also an owner of the statue in the late 1940s.

The newspaper concluded that in the city’s “early bustling days” (Chief Smoke) was in demand at fairs, parades and celebrations.

It survived a big fire in 1887 “and could tell interesting tales of the days ‘when’ but he seems content to let life eddy about him and rest in the knowledge that he is a genuine museum piece, a member of that almost extinct tribe, the Cigar Store Indian.”

Ted and Jerry Small bought it for their collection from the Lutchers. The two families had been the only owners of the piece, which had a 90-year stint at the store.

Fast-forwarding to 2011, U-B reporter Vicki Hillhouse wrote that it sold at auction in June that year for $55,000, a vast increase in value from its original $300 (see Its new owner planned to keep it in Walla Walla and loan it to Fort Walla Walla Museum for display, according to Greg Lutcher, great-grandson of Lutcher’s Cigar Store founder Jacob.

With eyes shaded by his right hand, Chief Smoke wears buckskin clothing and sports a colorful headdress.

Appraisers preparing for the sale researched Chief Smoke and found it was made by Thomas V. Brooks, “an artist considered by many to be the ‘dean’ of 19th-century American carvers,” Vicki reported.

“According to a description from Maurer Antique Appraisals LLC, Brooks worked first in New York and later Chicago, producing both commercial advertising statues and figureheads for sailing ships. The Walla Walla carving is believed to be from the New York workshop. At the time it was made, Brooks had an inventory of more than 400 figures available for sale at any time.”

The Lions Club has an international reach, best examplified when a member of the Walla Walla, Australia, Lions Club paid a call on members of the Eastgate Lions Club in Walla Walla, Wash.,

A farmer, Trevor Barber owns about 1,500 acres in Australia, where he raises sheep and wheat. He also has a company that builds grain silos. He traveled about 8,153 miles as the crow flies to visit the Walla Walla Valley.

Wikipedia indicates the meaning of Trevor’s community name in New South Wales is from the aboriginal Wiradjuri language for “many rocks,” compared to our name, which comes from the Walla Walla tribe and means “many waters.”

Local Lions Club member Scott Williams said Trevor’s visit to the area was enhanced when he caught his first-ever baseball game where the first batter at the Walla Walla Sweets event hit a home run over the fence. “Trevor was very excited about that,” Scott said.

Since Melvin Jones founded the secular service organization in 1917, Lions has grown to more than 45,500 clubs with more than 1.35 million members in 205 countries around the world.

Eastgate Lions was chartered in 1956 by a group of Eastgate businessmen, Scott said. Its original president was Sam Greco.

Scott wields the presidential gavel for the 2013-2014 term and serves with Sally Kearsley, first vice president; Betty Holway, secretary; Glen Horner, treasurer; and six other director positions. Currently there are approximately 30 members.

“The Lions’ primary reason for fundraisers is eyecare,” Scott said. Eastgate’s biggest and most famous fundraiser is the annual crab feed in February of each year at the fairgrounds.

Club members were challenged by American author, political activist and lecturer Helen Keller in 1925 to become “Knights of the Blind.” Lions went international in 1927 and that increased in the 1950s and 1960s to more than 6,000 clubs in more than 200 countries.

The Eastgate club meets at 6:30 p.m. on the first and third Wednesdays of the month in the Pioneer Park Garden Center off Alder Street. Guests are welcome. Contact Glen Horner at 525-5485 for more details.


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