While most brown pelicans rarely venture far from their flocks, this bird seems to have taken a lone holiday, far to the north of its usual range. (Geoffrey Newell photo)

While most brown pelicans rarely venture far from their flocks, this bird seems to have taken a lone holiday, far to the north of its usual range. (Geoffrey Newell photo)

Rare sighting of lone Brown Pelican in Oak Bay waters

Bird is uncharacteristically alone and far from home

It seems that the scenic vistas of the B.C. shoreline, and of Oak Bay in particular, have attracted a rather rare visitor to the area.

On Tuesday (Sept.4) Geoffrey Newell captured photos of a pelecanus occidentalis (that’s a brown pelican for those not initiated to the ways of ornithology).

The lone pelican was spotted, happily enjoying the sights at the Victoria Golf Course, at Cattle Point and at the Bowker Creek estuary.

Although not an endangered species, or even a species at risk, the bird is unusual in these waters as their natural habitat is far further south as evidenced by the fact that the bird has the distinction of being the national bird of Saint Martin, Barbados, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the official state bird of Louisiana.

When sighted, this particular brown pelican was just relaxing along-side some native seagulls (perhaps getting some advice from the locals on places to visit while here on vacation).

Birders in the area, however, are sure to be out in full force in hopes of witnessing the spectacular dives for which the bird is known.

The brown pelican will fly at a height of about 18 to 21 metres above the water but can spot schools of fish, even from that height. Once the prey is sighted, it will dive beak first in search of its prey, often submerging completely before emerging with its supper.

The bird is almost entirely a fish eater (piscivore) and is nearly exclusively a marine species.

Beyond the fact that this particular bird has ventured far from home for its northern holiday, it’s equally unusual to find one of his species flying alone.

The species is known to be a gregarious bird that tends to flock with others of its kind. They are also monogamous breeders (although they do not pair for life).

At the risk of anthropomorphizing this bird’s behaviour, the departure from the norm may well lead Oak Bay birders to speculate about what circumstances led to this lone bird to strike out on its own.

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