WonDerFul! American White Pelicans Return To Utah Island After 80-Year Absence

“WonDerFul!” American White Pelicans Return To Utah Island After 80-Year Absence

(Salt Lake City) — The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources reports that American white pelicans have nested on Hat Island for the first time since 1943 and have returned to a nearby nesting colony they abandoned last year.

According to officials, the pelicans left their Gunnison Island nesting colony last year. The Division of Wildlife Resources owns and operates both the island and Hat Island, which are both situated in the Great Salt Lake.

Due to low water levels for many years, these islands were no longer considered to be islands; instead, they are now wildlife management areas used primarily as protected bird rookeries, which are breeding colonies for birds that are typically seen as a collection of nests high in a clump of trees (Oxford English Dictionary).

The islands are off-limits to tourists, and it’s supposedly against the law to approach them within a mile. According to officials, that includes land, air, or sea. Officials stated that although humans might not be allowed to visit, coyotes and other animals have managed to cross land bridges to reach the islands.

WonDerFul! American White Pelicans Return To Utah Island After 80-Year Absence (1)

The last confirmed reports of pelicans nesting at Hat Island date back to 1943. According to DWR press, “Pelicans are extremely susceptible to disturbances while nesting, so they stopped nesting there.” Additionally, “biologists believe they abandoned the Gunnison Island nesting colony last year due to repeated disturbances from predators.”

Why, then, are the birds back on Hat Island?

As far as DWR officials can tell, the pelicans may have decided to come back to the island because, in light of the events that resulted in the colony’s desertion last year, they are a little “gun-shy” about nesting at Gunnison Island.

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According to reports, Hat Island is still close to the abundant food sources in the marshes on the eastern bank of the Great Salt Lake, providing a potential haven for the birds.

And they have a good incentive to pick a strategic site for their nest.

According to the DWR, pelicans have a lengthy nesting season because they are exceptionally large birds. They are said to need a week to construct a nest, lay eggs, and court; they need a month to incubate the eggs; and they need three weeks to raise a chick. After that, raising a pre-fledgling is said to require nine to ten weeks of attention.

According to DWR Great Salt Lake Ecosystem Programme Manager John Luft, “This process takes about four months or longer overall, so pelicans need a protected space for a long period, and remote islands provide that protection.” “Pelicans are highly social birds that benefit from each other in these nesting colonies as well as cooperating when feeding.”

The number of pelicans nesting on each island is still unknown, according to DWR officials, but they are still conducting monitoring surveys and observing the continued arrival of white pelicans.

Currently, estimates place the number of birds on Gunnison Island at about 800, and Hat Island at about 1,300.

To out more about these pelicans and the methods used by the DWR to keep an eye on their numbers.

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