Subject: Pelicans (was Early Arrivals)
Date: Apr 10 15:12:55 1995
From: Michael Price - Michael_Price at

Hi Tweeters

Rick Gee says:

>on sunday we were hiking near oliver, in the south okanagan valley,
>and saw a lrge flock of large birds flying north (20 or so birds).
>they were so far away that we couldn't make a firm identification.
>from the large wingspan and the fact that they flashed white in the sun,
>we thought pelicans. but isnt't this too early for pelicans to be heading

I got curious and re-read both Birds of the Okanagan Valley by the Brothers
Cannings, and Wayne Campbell et al's Birds of British Columbia on the

BOV p.75 says:
"Most spring records fall between the second week of April and the last
week of May...earliest spring record is 14 March...The first pelicans
normally arrive at the Stum Lake colony (in what is now White Pelican Pk.
in the Chilcotin Plateau--MP) in the second half of April..."

BBC vol 1, p.208 says:
"In March, migrants start moving northward..." from W Mexico wintering

What's interesting to me is that AWPE is considered a very rare fluke
vagrant here on the coast, but when I looked back through Vancouver records
for the last 12 yrs, what we have is a small cluster of records in late May
and early June which in 1991 yielded an average arrival here on the coast
of May 29. Darned if 1992's 5 AWPE didn't arrive *exactly* on that date a
year later. Hot stuff.

Preening of my statistical ego aside :-), what that *seems* to suggest is
that, *if* observers are in the right place at the right time, we'll see a
regular, if late, migration or occurrence of a small group of AWPE along
the inner coast of Georgia Strait (and that raises the question of whether
they also turn up in spring with equal regularity on the E coast of
Vancouver Is.), that has staged here (i.e, loafed for a week or so off the
Roberts Bank Coalport Jetty). No-one knows if they turn inland here on
their way to a breeding lake, or continue up the coast. Or whether these
are failed or non-breeders already out wandering around for lack of
anything better to do before the fall migration.

My questions are: if they are late migrants, where do they hang a right
turn to go inland? In view of the lateness of these migrants, are they
non-breeders, though with few exceptions they're in definitive alternate
adult plumages? And if they are breeders, do they go somewhere else than
Stum L. to nest?

Let me stress that this post refers only to late spring/early summer birds,
not fall migration vagrant occurrence.

Finally, what I *really* want to know is does its beak *really*--


Michael Price
Vancouver BC Canada
michael_price at