Pelican adults and their young on Puntzi Lake represent nesting success while Stum Lake experienced a complete nesting failure this year.

Pelican adults and their young on Puntzi Lake represent nesting success while Stum Lake experienced a complete nesting failure this year.

Pelican problems at Stum Lake

Local wildlife biologist disappointed and searching for answers after complete pelican nesting failure at Stum Lake.

A complete nesting failure at the only confirmed White American Pelican breeding lake in B.C. has left local wildlife biologist Julie Steciw extremely disappointed and searching for answers.

“This year I was looking forward and very optimistic that we would have a successful breeding season at Stum Lake,” Steciw said Monday.

Steciw has been monitoring the endangered birds at Stum Lake for Natural Resource Operations since mid-1990 and says a total failure, which occurs when there are no chicks after breeding season, can happen for a number of reasons — human disturbance, wildlife disturbance or low flying aircraft.

She doesn’t know what is responsible this time around.

In May, Steciw and former wildlife biologist Jim Young counted 500 nests at the site.

When they returned in July there should have been a “sea of white” on the islands.

“Usually there are chicks or they have re-nested, but there was nothing,” Steciw confirmed.

Steciw says there was also a total failure during the 2009 season and there have been partial failures ever since.

In 2010 woodchuck burrows were discovered all over the island and Steciw began to wonder if that was the problem.

With the help of conservation officer Ken Owens she successfully trapped the woodchuck in 2012.

“We thought we’d solved the problem of the nesting failures,” Steciw said.

But there is a positive twist in this story. After learning of the nesting failure, Steciw said a local biologist told her she had seen eight pelican nests with two eggs in each one on a small skinny island at Puntzi Lake.

Then confirmation arrived last week of a hatching success when Steciw received a photograph of young pelicans taken by someone who was fishing there.

“With his photo, it confirms those eggs hatched,” she said. “There were three chicks in the photo and a couple adults. It would be pretty interesting if they started nesting elsewhere or were forced to.”

The thought that they can nest successfully elsewhere is exciting, she added.

During her observations, Steciw has learned to appreciate pelicans as “large, gangly and interesting” birds.

“The biology of it is so interesting,” she said. “They are sitting on the nest, trading off and when they come in to trade off, sometimes they come in hundreds at a time. They do a lot of neat vocalization too.”

One of her worries is that unlike Stum Lake, there is no protection for pelicans at Puntzi Lake.

“You aren’t allowed on Stum Lake during breeding season and it’s pretty difficult to get into the area,” she said.

Steciw is asking anyone who observes pelicans to record their name, phone number, the date, number of pelicans, and identify the location with a dot on a Google Earth map if possible, and contact her at Natural Resource Operations, 250-398-4671 or Julie.Steciw@gov.bc.ca.

Government continues to monitor Red-listed species

Breeding records for pelicans at Stum Lake date back to May 1939.

The first census was taken in 1953.

The pelicans normally return to the Cariboo at the end of March or April. If Stum Lake is still frozen, they will visit other lakes to forge for food.

In May they can be seen on local lakes and creeks forging for spawning suckers.

When there is no disturbance to the colony, of the one to four eggs in a nest, on average only .75 fledge per nest.

A banding project several years ago verified the Stum Lake pelicans stay in the western side of the Continental Divide.

They migrate to Washington, Oregon, California and primarily Western Mexico. Three of the band returns were from the left side of the Continental Divide, although that was rare, wildlife biologist Julie Steciw said.

The major migratory route through the province is north through the Okanagan Valley, northwest through Nicola-Thompson, to Stum Lake and the Chilcotin Plateau.

The White American Pelican is Red-listed and designated as endangered in B.C.

 

 

Just Posted

Williams Lake courthouse. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Preliminary inquiry gets underway May 17 into 2018 murder north of Williams Lake

Wyatt Lee Boffa, Daine Victor Stump are charged with first degree murder

Talia McKay of Williams Lake is a burn survivor who remains grateful for the support she received from the Burn Fund (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
’You have to allow yourself the grace to heal’: B.C. burn survivor reflects on her recovery

Learning how to stand straight and walk again was a feat said Williams Lake resident Talia McKay

As a former reporter and editor at the Tribune, Diana French carries on sharing her ideas through her weekly column. (Photo submitted)
FRENCH CONNECTION: Worth taking another look at hemp for paper production

Ninety years after being deemed illegal, few are afraid of marijauna

Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)
RANCH MUSINGS: Milking cows and strangers on the premises

Cows in a milking barn may get upset if a stranger comes

Lake City Secondary School Grade 12 students Haroop Sandhu, from left, Amrit Binning and Cleary Manning are members of the school’s horticulture club. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
LCSS horticulture club a growing success

Aspiring gardeners at a Williams Lake secondary school are earning scholarship dollars… Continue reading

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

Most Read