SASKATOON – It’s a sure sign that spring is on the way. The annual Meewasin pelican watch contest is underway.
Since the late 1970s, American white pelicans have been a sight along the South Saskatchewan River as the hunt for fish by the weir. It is believed the birds fly to the weir from Redberry Lake, an approximate one-way flight of 140 kilometres.
The distance, believe it or not, is nothing for one of the largest native birds in North America. Pelicans are known to travel even greater distances on a daily basis in search of food.
American white pelicans weigh between seven and 10 kilograms and have a wing span of up to three metres. Breeding birds develop an orange horn on their bills that falls off once nesting season has ended.
They were once on the endangered species list but have recovered.
During the contest, which runs from March 1 until March 31 or the arrival of the first pelican, people will be able to guess the date and time when the first pelican will arrive at the weir.
The earliest a pelican has arrived was three years ago at 7 a.m. on April 4. The latest? Last year at 3:15 p.m. on April 20.
Entries can be made online at Meeswasin, or in person at the Meewasin Valley Centre or Beaver Creek conservation area.
Global Saskatoon is one of the supporters of the Meewasin pelican watch.