Endangered American White Pelican Colony Rebounds

British Columbia's only breeding colony of the endangered American white pelican has doubled in size since 1988.

Estimates of the population in 2002 are 650 to 700 individuals of which 580 are breeding adults. This is a recovery from a low of 85 nests counted in 1968.

After three decades of declining or stable numbers, the pelican population, located in a provincial park northwest of Williams Lake, multiplied swiftly from 1983 to 2002. In two years, 1960 and 2001, breeding failed completely, producing no fledged young. On average, though, the colony has reared more chicks each year.

Despite the increasing trends for nests and young, the number of offspring found in each nest has dropped during the last decade from a high of 1.5 pre-fledged young per nest in 1992 to an average of about 0.5 young since then. Disease, predators, human activities or habitat limitations could be preventing some adult pelicans from successfully breeding.


Katharine VanSpall, Julie Steciw and James A. Young. 2005. Fifty Years of American White Pelican Breeding at Stum Lake, British Columbia. Waterbirds. 28(sp1): 18-22.

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