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Pelican love in Glace Bay

Glace Bay wharf’s newest visitor, a brown pelican, stretches its wings as it perches on a fishing boat on Sunday. The pelican has been a sight for many bird lovers around Cape Breton and residents eager to see the bird which is native to Florida, Georgia and southern areas. Most likely the pelican ended up in Cape Breton because of Hurricane Dorian. CONTRIBUTED/JEANNIE FRASER
Glace Bay wharf’s newest visitor, a brown pelican, stretches its wings as it perches on a fishing boat on Sunday. The pelican has been a sight for many bird lovers around Cape Breton and residents eager to see the bird which is native to Florida, Georgia and southern areas. Most likely the pelican ended up in Cape Breton because of Hurricane Dorian. CONTRIBUTED/JEANNIE FRASER - Contributed

Expert thinks bird flew off course during Hurricane Dorian

GLACE BAY, N.S. —

A brown pelican is making itself at home on the Glace Bay wharf.

Bird expert David McCorquodale thinks the pelican landed in Cape Breton after getting blown off course during Hurricane Dorian.

The remnants of the hurricane also brought in a number of laughing gulls, a variety of terns, many swallows and a black-necked stilt - a wader related to plovers,” said the Cape Breton University professor who is a member of a local bird watching group.

These are all birds you would expect in coastal Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas at this time of year. Some birds get caught up in the storm and are deposited or dropped. Presumably, some of these are in the eye of the storm and others, when they get spun out to calmer winds. Over the years, Cape Breton has had a variety of birds blown in by hurricanes.”

Another member of the bird watching group, Rowland Spear, first spotted the pelican on a store roof in Glace Bay and posted it on the groups Facebook page.

On Sunday, Spear saw the pelican again on the wharf and posted the information on the Facebook page. About six people from the group went to see the pelican.

Jeannie Fraser, who lives in Ben Eoin, was one of them and said when she saw the post she rushed out the door in hopes she’d get there in time.

“Apparently I drove there in a really short amount of time, I’ve been told,” she said with a laugh.

When she arrived, Fraser was “surprised” at how calm the pelican was with all the commotion at the harbour- there was a boat being unloading and plenty of people there to see the bird, some getting as close as two feet next to the bird.

“He was a little bit smaller than I had imagined,” said Fraser who became a birder a few years ago.

“He was beautiful. So much detail in his neck. And his neck, the pouch where he catches food… He would stretch his neck out and bend it back. It was like he was preening the whole time… Like he was performing.”

Fraser said she stayed and watched the pelican for about an hour, taking pictures of him in his different poses.

“I spoke to one man who said, “He was eating fish right from my hand,” she said, noting she was concerned the pelican might not leave if people keep feeding it.  

“It was exciting to see the pelican (up close), but along with that comes sadness that he’s been displaced… You feel bad for the animal because they’re not usually this far north.”

McCorquodale said he thinks the pelican won’t be wooed by hand held fish for long.

“My personal opinion is that the pelican will fly south when it is ready. Feeding is likely to improve its physical condition and perhaps cause it to head south sooner than if it is not fed. Certainly, in Florida and the Caribbean brown pelicans hang around fishing wharves for food,” he said.

“Perhaps it will hang around longer because it is being fed. Perhaps it is injured and will not head south. My personal view is let it decide what to do and where to get food.

  

nicole.sullivan@cbpost.com

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