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Letter: Rare birds flock to South Okanagan

From Trumpeter swans and pelicans to sandhill cranes, a sighting is always fun
This lone pelican popped into Penticton for a visit last week. (Robert Emms photo)


Such a lovely sighting of the strangely elegant American Pelican Mr. Emms had recently. While it is unusual to see a lone individual of this species, they do migrate through the Okanagan Valley each spring and fall including along Okanagan Lake. Since they are in migration to the Caribou where they nest, though, they don’t linger on the larger lakes where food is less available to them and there’s more humans present. Even at Vaseux Lake, where they do rest and feed in migration, one is fortunate to see them as they tend not to stay very long. I hope that this juvenile is able to connect with a flock heading south!

On the other hand, upwards of 100+ Trumpeter swans (and a few, look-alike, Tundra swans) spend late fall and winter in the South Okanagan, moving from lake to lake as open water or ice conditions and food supply dictate. They are indeed often present on Okanagan Lake including along the shallower western shore where they can feed. They leave for their nesting grounds in late winter/early spring, however, and are not resident in the valley spring through late fall.

And speaking of large migrating birds, if you are lucky, you may still hear a flock of Sandhill cranes high overhead. Their haunting drawn-out croaking calls (conversations in the flock) are unmistakable and carry long distances so that you may only hear, but not see, their skeins heading south.

Eva Durance


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