Saskatoon residents have special visitors each summer. April through October, pelicans gather by the weir to fish. These birds, once on the endangered species list, have been a beautiful sight on the South Saskatchewan River since the late 1970s. For Saskatoon residents, their arrival is a harbinger of spring.
With the support of the Saskatoon Nature Society, Meewasin has been holding a Pelican Watch Contest since 1996. Each spring, Saskatoon residents guess the arrival time of the first pelican to Saskatoon to land between the CPR Bridge and the Saskatoon Weir. However, it is more than a contest. It is an opportunity to learn about the pelican.
The American White Pelican is one of the largest birds on the continent weighing 7 – 10 kg and having a wing span of up to 3 metres. Breeding birds develop an orange horn on their bill that falls off after nesting season. The breeding birds seen at the weir have likely flown to Saskatoon from Redberry Lake, the site of the nearest colony. The pelicans make the 160 km trip daily. In late fall, our pelicans migrate to sites in California, Florida, Mexico and Guatemala.
Guess the closest date and time of the first pelican’s arrival at the weir to WIN PRIZES!
Contest runs annually March 1 – 31.
In the past 24 years, the earliest and latest dates the pelicans have been observed arriving are:
April 2 at 6:25 p.m. and April 21 at 11:48 a.m.
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