Chilliwack birders were in for a rare treat recently with sightings of an American White Pelican in the Vedder Canal.
But it likely wasn’t such a treat for the pelican, which is almost never seen on the ground or in the waters in the Fraser Valley.
The bird should be at its wintering grounds in California by now.
”The last time one was seen on land in the Fraser Valley was in 1999 at Salish Pond,” Jamie Gadsden told The Progress. “So this is definitely a rare and exciting sighting as it is not often one gets to see an American White Pelican so close up.”
Gadsden is following in his father Gord Gadsden’s footsteps, and is in his first year at the University of the Fraser Valley, eventually hoping to become an ornithologist.
Local photographers Brad Fedoruk, William Snow, and Gord Gadsden, all captured images of the pelican’s visit to Chilliwack.
American White Pelicans do breed in British Columbia, exclusively at Stum Lake about 70 kilometres west of Williams Lake. The bird has been legally designated as an endangered species in B.C. due at least in part because of the fluctuating water levels at their only nesting grounds on Stum Lake.
“They are seen nearly every year, usually in groups, flying over either to or from their breeding grounds,” Jamie Gadsden said. “So it is very unusual to see one just sitting around, since at this time of year they should be in California where their wintering grounds are. This bird was a young one who got lost, or initially got grounded due to the bad weather.”
The bird was spotted in the Vedder Canal near Highway 1 for most of the day on Oct. 16, and was seen as recently as Oct. 23 in the area.
”Hopefully it will continue its journey south if it has not already left,” he said.
Local birder Christian Lodders agreed with Gadsden’s assessment.
“They are seen a few times a year, but almost always in overflight during migration,” Lodders said. “I’ve never heard of one on a Chilliwack water body.”
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