Have you seen a pelican with a coloured leg band?
Then, we want to hear from you!
Pelicans from Lake Brewster, in the Murray-Darling Basin, have been banded as part of a research project to learn more about their movements.
You can play a part in this research project by reporting your sightings via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lake Brewster pelicans
Lake Brewster, in the Lachlan River catchment, is an important site for pelicans. It is one of the few sites in the Murray Darling Basin where pelicans breed in large numbers (more than 5,000 nests) on a semi-regular basis. Pelicans have nested at Lake Brewster since 1984 when records were first kept. In recent years the size of the pelican colonies has increased to about 8,000 birds in the summer of 2016-2017. WaterNSW who manage water storages and delivery in the Lachlan valley, and NSW EHG who manage the water for the environment program, have been working together to enable the waterbird breeding events which occur at the lake to complete successfully.
After prolonged flooding in the Lachlan River catchment in 2016, pelicans bred at several locations in the Lake.
One important factor of pelican ecology that is poorly understood is whether pelicans return to the site where they hatched. This is known as natal site fidelity. If pelicans do show strong natal site fidelity this would mean their choice of new nesting sites would be very limited – making protection and management of existing sites even more important.
In May 2017, 66 juvenile pelicans were banded with uniquely numbered orange leg bands. In March-April 2018, a further 77 birds were banded following another successful breeding event. Most recently 245 birds were banded after a large breeding event in summer 2022. These bands will stay on for approximately 10-15 years and help us keep track of movements – whether they revisit Lake Brewster or other wetlands.
Reports of banded birds have been coming in. The furthest confirmed sighting to date is an orange-banded pelican near Noosa in Queensland. Each report of a banded bird sighted adds a vitally important clue that adds to our knowledge and ability to conserve pelicans.
Lake Brewster was originally a natural ephemeral wetland which was developed in the 1950s into a secondary storage to re-regulate the delivery of water to the lower Lachlan. More recently, work has been undertaken to restore wetland habitats in the lake.