Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Brown Pelican update

Digiscoped photo: Bruce Glick

The Brown Pelican reported here yesterday at Atwood Lake continued through today, and numerous observers made the trip and successfully located the bird. Bruce Glick kindly sent along the above image of the little fellow stretching his wings.

I appreciate John Hoopingarner of the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District for bringing this bird to light, and providing additional details. It turns out that the first sighting of the pelican was around 3:00 pm on Friday, August 24th. It probably was not present much before this, as several of the early observers spend lots of time on or around the lake, and probably would have noticed this eight pound behemoth with a 6 1/2 foot wingspan.

With luck, the pelican will stay for a while. For regular bulletins on sightings, and where on Lake Atwood it is being seen, follow the Ohio Birds Listserv. This is a major Ohio rarity; the sixth record, I believe. The first was not until 1990, and the occurrence and increase of vagrant Brown Pelicans in the Midwest correlates with the resurgence of their population following decimation by chemical pollutants such as DDT. It may be that Hurricane Isaac played a role in shooing this young pelican north - hurricanes along the Gulf often result in coastal vagrants appearing far inland. Another Brown Pelican has been seen in recent days along the north shore of Lake Erie, in Canadian waters.

Keep your eyes peeled if you're near large water bodies. Chances are there are more pelicans out there somewhere, and who knows, maybe you'll find a Magnificent Frigatebird!

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