What’s the good news, 2020? Shuswap Lake becomes important layover for flight of pelicans

A group of American White Pelicans sits on a sandbar near the mouth of the Salmon River and preens in July 2020. (Glynne Green photo)A group of American White Pelicans sits on a sandbar near the mouth of the Salmon River and preens in July 2020. (Glynne Green photo)
Preening and resting is the order of the day for a group of American White Pelicans sitting on a sandbar near the mouth of the Salmon River in July 2020. (Glynne Green photo)Preening and resting is the order of the day for a group of American White Pelicans sitting on a sandbar near the mouth of the Salmon River in July 2020. (Glynne Green photo)
These American White Pelicans are actively and enthusiastically feeding on what appears to be a school of fish near the mouth of the Salmon River in Shuswap Lake. (Glynne Green photo)These American White Pelicans are actively and enthusiastically feeding on what appears to be a school of fish near the mouth of the Salmon River in Shuswap Lake. (Glynne Green photo)
American White Pelicans feed together near the mouth of the Salmon River in Shuswap Lake. (Glynne Green photo)American White Pelicans feed together near the mouth of the Salmon River in Shuswap Lake. (Glynne Green photo)
A single American White Pelican sits just west of Peter Jannink Nature Park in Salmon Arm in July 2020. (Glynne Green photo)A single American White Pelican sits just west of Peter Jannink Nature Park in Salmon Arm in July 2020. (Glynne Green photo)
The bump visible on the bills of these American White Pelicans swimming near the mouth of the Salmon River in Shuswap Lake indicates their breeding maturity. (Glynne Green photo)The bump visible on the bills of these American White Pelicans swimming near the mouth of the Salmon River in Shuswap Lake indicates their breeding maturity. (Glynne Green photo)

As 2020 draws to a close, the Salmon Arm Observer is looking back at some of the stories that reflect the positive work, activities and accomplishments that occurred throughout this challenging year.

Shuswap Lake’s popularity as a layover on the flight path of pelicans appears to be growing.

A couple of avid birdwatchers say the number of American White Pelicans stopping in Salmon Arm Bay on the way to and from their nesting ground near Williams Lake has increased this year.

“I’ve seen more this year than the past few years,” said Glynne Green, who loves to watch and photograph the snowy white birds with their bright orange bills.

He said they don’t all move together but move in bunches. He estimated seeing anywhere from 30 to 50 near the mouth of the Salmon River.

They like to dine on the coarse fish, he said, probably because they’re easy to catch.

The coarse fish aren’t native to the area. He said they were introduced from the Okanagan and he surmises they’re a reason the pelicans come to the lake.

Photos of pelicans aren’t always easy to get. Green said they’re a private bird and, as a rule, they won’t let you get near.

“They watch pretty closely and they’re fairly wary.”

Green speaks with enthusiasm about their beauty and uniqueness.

Close up, he says they look as big as a swan.

He noted they grow a lump on their bill which indicates their breeding maturity. Once they’re through breeding, it falls off.

“They’re gorgeous flyers to watch,” he says. “The mating rituals, the males will do circles and loops. If you see a big flock coming in, it almost looks like a roller coaster… They fly real close to each other.”

He said one of the best places to see them is from Peter Jannink Nature Park, if you look west towards the mouth of the river. Sometimes they can be seen near Christmas Island.

Read more: Pelicans spotted in Peachland

Read more: ‘Peli’ the pelican, found injured in Oliver, reunited with flock after lengthy rehab


marthawickett@saobserver.net
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