A pelican in Nova Scotia? Unusual birds blown into Cape Breton by Dorian
After a storm as big as Dorian, residents in Cape Breton probably expected to find a few strange things that had been blown in by the winds. But a pelican?
A large brown bird has been spotted strutting around Glace Bay wharf this past week, far from its usual tropical waters. Experts say the bird was probably as surprised to find itself in Atlantic Canada as the residents of Cape Breton were to see it -- it's thought that the bird was blown off course.
The eye-catching bird has become a sensation in the area.
“There’s been people coming here from as far as East Bay to take photos,” resident Dylan Yates told CTV News Atlantic. “It’s just not something you see every day.”
Jeannie Fraser snapped more than one photo of the bird, saying it was “pretty exciting to see, in spite of the fact that it shouldn’t have been here.”
If the pelican wasn’t actually aiming to set up camp in a Nova Scotia harbor, where was it aiming to go?
David McCorquodale, a biology professor at Cape Breton University and an avid bird watcher, said that the pelican was blown from the coast of the southern U.S., confirming that the storm was at fault for the bird’s massive displacement.
And the pelican wasn’t the only bird whose flight plan went through a drastic change due to storm winds.
Among the birds blown off course, he said, were “a variety of terns. A black-necked stilt. And these are things that are all reasonably common on the coasts of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina.”
Although the sight of a pelican strutting around Glace Bay wharf is exciting, many are worried about the bird being in such a different climate than its usual habitat.
McCorquodale said there’s a few options for the bird.
“We know some of them don’t make it,” he said. Others will find food, “feed up for three, four, five days a week,” and then simply fly back south, fortified by their northern trip.
But Glace Bay wharf’s newest feathered friend might not be heading out that quickly.
“The odd one will just hang around for a while,” McCorquodale said.
It’s happened before: Ralph the pelican was one such traveller who became well-known around Halifax after blowing in during Hurricane Earl in 2011.
There’s been other sightings over the years of birds rarely seen in Nova Scotia, including a crested caracara spotted near Balls Creek in Cape Breton in 2014, and a stunningly vibrant bird called a painted bunting that was seen around Marble Mountain last year.
Some believe it would be best for the pelican to make its stay in Cape Breton short, for its own health.
Fraser is one person hoping to see the bird fly the coop, saying she hopes “it takes flight and tries to make its way home -- without an organization having to come in and rescue it.”