Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Good News at Chase Lake

Tuesday, April 25, 2006
April 22, 2006. The white pelicans are back at Chase Lake. Photo by Rick Bohn.

Our North Dakota buddy, Rick Bohn, sends along the news that more than 5,500 white pelicans are already back on the traditional nesting islands at Chase Lake NWR, near Carrington, ND. Chase Lake was established as a National Wildlife Refuge in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt to protect the then-tiny nesting colony of white pelicans.

In recent years this site--once the world's largest white pelican nesting colony, with 30,000 birds--has experienced massive failure, with eggs and nestlings being abandoned by parents for no apparent reason. Researchers have many hypotheses about the nesting failure in 2004 and 2005, including disturbance by predators, disease, and a crash in the food base. No definitive answers have been found for these mysterious failures of the colony.

We're headed out to North Dakota in June for the Potholes and Prairie Birding Festival, one of our favorite events each year. The birding in ND is fabulous, the people are so nice it's scary, and then there's the knefla soup (which was described by the waitress at the Pingree Cafe as "a nice soup with kneflas in it").

White pelican over Chase Lake. Photo by Rick Bohn.