The White Pelican is a big bird — it is probably the biggest bird we get. Mind you, the Trumpeter Swan is a bit heavier, but a tad smaller.

Although we get the Trumpeter Swan with far greater frequency, I have only seen the White Pelican a few times at the south end of the Main Lake, from which it probably heads to the prairie provinces to breed. Occasionally they have been seen travelling down the West Arm of Kootenay Lake (where I live). These are probably ones that are headed for the only pelican breeding place in B.C.: Stum Lake, about 60 km to the west of Williams Lake.

Today, eight of them were here travelling west along the West Arm. It was the first time I have seen this bird in its breeding garb.

Eight pelicans are coming along the West Arm of Kootenay Lake. Photo by Cynthia Fraser.

As they get closer they fan their tails and drop feet preparing to land.

When closer, they temporarily change their minds.

A yellow plate forms on the bill of a breeding adult. It vanishes when eggs are laid. It is the first time I have seen this plate.

Then they landed. The odd structure around the eye is mysterious.


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6 Responses to Pelicans

  1. Tom Johnston says:

    Great images, as always and very interesting to see the “pick me” breeding plate. First I’ve heard of or seen it.

    I moved to BC in 1974 and saw a pelican in Pelican Lake, NW of Quesnel. It is also a shallow lake. There is now a Provincial recreation site there and apparently some pelicans can still be seen.

  2. Karen Pidcock says:

    Thanks for catching these, so far west of the prairies, Alistair!

  3. Lorna Surina says:

    I was not aware of the plate, thank you for the lovely picture of it.

  4. Christine Boyd says:

    Fascinating. My mate says they are seen in AB. I didn’t know they were north of Florida. Super good photos, thank you.

  5. Erik McDonough says:

    Beautiful photos!

  6. R. Parfeniuk says:

    Superb photos!

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