When we camped at Canyon of the Eagles Nature Park in Burnet last week, we glimpsed a flock of American White Pelicans migrating to the north for breeding season. It was nearing dusk when most of them rested along the shore of Lake Buchanan. We watched them from a distance, so as not to scare them away.
“American White Pelicans are one of the largest birds in North America. They average 62 inches in length, 108 inches wingspan, and weigh 16 pounds on average. Their wingspan is an impressive 9 feet. The bodies of the pelicans are white with black wing tips, which are only visible when the bird spreads its massive wings. Despite their size, the pelicans are graceful fliers, with flocks soaring high in the air and wheeling in unison. In flight, black wing tips and trailing edges are good field marks.”~interact.stltoday.com
Apart from the difference in size, males and females look exactly alike. Immature birds have light grey plumage with darker brownish nape. Their bare parts are dull grey. Chicks are naked at first, then grow white down feathers all over, before moulting to the immature plumage.
American White Pelicans nest in colonies of several hundred pairs on islands in remote brackish and freshwater lakes of inland North America. The most northerly nesting colony can be found on islands in the rapids of the Slave River between Fort Fitzgerald, Alberta and Fort Smith, Northwest Territories. They winter on the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico coasts from central California and Florida south to Panama, and along the Mississippi River at least as far north as St. Louis, Missouri. In winter quarters, they are rarely found on the open seashore, preferring estuaries and lakes. They cross deserts and mountains but avoid the open ocean on migration. But stray birds, often blown off course by hurricanes, have been seen in the Caribbean.~ wikipedia.org