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.