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.