Birds - Colonial waterbirds
The American white pelican is RED-listed, and is legally designated as ENDANGERED under the British Columbia Wildlife Act. The COSEWIC status is NOT AT RISK. Only one nesting colony occurs in the province, and a restricted number of lakes meet the necessary requirements for feeding. Since this species has a long period of sexual immaturity (does not breed until third year), and a relatively low reproductive rate (usually rears only a single chick), they have poor resilience to major population setbacks.
The American white pelican is a migratory species. The breeding population that nests at Stum Lake, on the Chilcotin Plateau, spends the winter in southwest California and the Pacific coast of Mexico. These pelicans are colonial nesters with Stum Lake being the only nesting location in B.C. They are a fish eating species that feed from the surface in shallow water. Their diet includes chub, suckers, squawfish, rainbow trout and other coarse fish. Breeding pelicans do not feed at Stum Lake, which has very few fish, but travel to surrounding lakes to feed and to obtain food for their young. The maximum life span is approximately 17 years.
CEI: BUB, CAB, CHP, FRB, NAU, WCU
SBPS: SBPSxc, SBPSdc
Breeding is restricted to Stum Lake.
Nonbreeders are scattered throughout the province, except in the far northwest. They are more common in the southern portion.
American white pelicans migrate seasonally between the breeding area at Stum Lake, on the Chilcotin Plateau, and wintering areas in southern California. Lakes in the Kamloops and Okanagan regions are used as staging areas for both spring and fall migrations.
For foraging, American white pelicans require shallow water (0.3-2.5 m) with abundant non-game fish populations (e.g., squawfish, chub and sucker). Loafing sites in the form of low, flat areas with little vegetation to obstruct the surrounding view are essential for good feeding habitat. Small islands provide the best loafing sites as they provide some protection from terrestrial predators. Floating logs as well as deltas and sandbars at river mouths are also commonly used loafing sites.
For nesting, the American white pelican requires isolated lakes with a food source nearby. Nesting lakes must contain at least one island with a water barrier around the island of sufficient depth and distance from the mainland to discourage mammalian predation. Water levels should be stable during the reproductive period. This ensures that rising water levels do not flood nest sites and decreasing water levels do not eliminate the water barrier to predation. Lakes must also be isolated to minimize the potential for human disturbance during the breeding season. Nesting islands are usually relatively low, flat, sparsely vegetated and treeless.
B.C. Ministry of Environment, White Pelican Advisory Committee. 1987. Interim White
Pelican Action Plan. B.C. Min. Environ. Int. Rep., Williams Lake, B.C.
Dunbar, D.L. 1984. The breeding ecology and management of white pelicans at Stum
Lake, British Columbia. B.C. Min. Environ., Victoria, B.C. Fish and Wildl. Rep. No. R-6.
Wood, M.D. 1990. Summer foraging distribution and habitat use of white pelicans on the
Fraser Plateau, B.C. 1989 and 1990. B.C. Min. Environ. - Reg. 5, Williams Lake, B.C. Tech. Rep.