American White Pelican
“…One of the largest North American birds, the American White Pelican is majestic in the air. The birds soar with incredible steadiness on broad, white-and-black wings. Their large heads and huge, heavy bills give them a prehistoric look. On the water they dip their pouched bills to scoop up fish, or tip-up like an oversized dabbling duck. Sometimes, groups of pelicans work together to herd fish into the shallows for easy feeding. Look for them on inland lakes in summer and near coastlines in winter.
Adults are usually silent. In aggressive and sexual encounters at the colony site, they emit frequent low, brief grunts. Chick embryos squawk before hatching to express discomfort if conditions get too hot or cold. The begging calls (described as a “whining grunt”) of hundreds of older young in the colony can be raucous…….”
“………….Size & Shape
A huge waterbird with very broad wings, a long neck, and a massive bill that gives the head a unique, long shape. They have thick bodies, short legs, and short, square tails. During the breeding season, adults grow an unusual projection or horn on the upper mandible near the tip of the bill.
Adult American White Pelicans are snowy white with black flight feathers visible only when the wings are spread. A small patch of ornamental feathers on the chest can become yellow in spring. The bill and legs are yellow-orange. Immatures are mostly white as well, but the head, neck, and back are variably dusky.
American White Pelicans feed from the water’s surface, dipping their beaks into the water to catch fish and other aquatic organisms. They often upend, like a very large dabbling duck, in this process. They do not plunge-dive the way Brown Pelicans do. They are superb soarers (they are among the heaviest flying birds in the world) and often travel long distances in large flocks by soaring. When flapping, their wingbeats are slow and methodical.
American White Pelicans typically breed on islands in shallow wetlands in the interior of the continent. They spend winters mainly on coastal waters, bays, and estuaries, or a little distance inland………”
Last week I drove out to Farmington Bay. I really haven’t been there for a really long time. I used to go a lot but due to a hectic life my time visiting the birds has dropped drastically.
I picked up Emmett from preschool and we both went to see what birds were at the bird refuge. It was a clear day and we loved seeing the American White Pelican. The mosquitos were ravenous and were definitely enjoying the lunchtime snack of me and Emmett. We loved the experience but next time we will take lots of mosquito spray.
The birds are massive in size and look elegant as they float on the chilly water. You never know what you will see at the bay. Sometimes you see lots of birds and other days it is vacant. This time of year the birds are migrating and often stay at the refuge for a minumal period of time. I went the next day to the refuge and didn’t even see one pelican. Life is an adventure so make sure you enjoy it each and every day.