An unusual visitor

Monique Dupuis

Photo : Monique Dupuis

October 14th, I was at the Centre d’interprétation de la nature du lac Boivin in Granby to watch birds and small animals like minks and squirrels, feed them and take pictures of them. Walking on the boardwalk, we saw some mallard and some wood duck, but then further away a gathering of people. We walked towards them ; they were all looking in the same direction, some with 400 or 500 mm lens pointing out. We asked someone what was going on, he pointed out at a big bird about 300 feet away, it is a pelican that is here since the beginning of September when hurricane Earl came by.

Back home, I searched on the Internet and in books that I have and found that the bird we saw was the American White Pelican, latin name Pelecanus erythrorhynchos. The pelican is a large bird, its total length is 50 to 67 inches mainly because of its beak, which measures 13 to 14.4 inches and its wingspan is from 95 to 120 inches. It weighs between 11 to 20 pounds. In the wild, it can live up to 16 years while the record in captivity is 34 years.

Pelicans nest in colonies on island of freshwater in western North America from northern California up to Northwest Territories, from western Ontario to British Columbia. They winter on the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico coasts from central California and Florida south to Panama, and along the Mississippi river at least as far north as St. Louis, Missouri. They mainly feed on fish they catch in their pouch.

Since 2002, 46 observations have been reported on rare bird site of Quebec. In 2010, a pelican was seen on lac Bouthillier, 18 km south of Mont-Laurier, an other was seen in Montmagny on the shore of St-Lawrence river and since september 12th, more than 25 observations were reported for lake Boivin  (Granby) alone.

Sources :

Les oiseaux du Québec :, lien Les oiseaux rares du Québec/link to Rare bird ofa Quebec

Wikipedia : American White Pelican

Encyclopédie des oiseaux du Québec, W. Earl Godfrey

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