Saturday, February 7, 2009

The American White Pelican

At the end of January, we did a couple of posts about brown pelicans and spoke about Pelican Island and the upcoming Pelican Island Day celebration March 14. You'll recall that the brown pelican is a year-around resident of our area and frequently nests on Pelican Island.

The American white pelican is a winter visitor to Pelican Island, but it does not nest there - it breeds on lakes in such places as Minnesota, Canada, and northern California. Unlike the brown pelican, white pelicans don't dive for food - they dip their large bills into the water while swimming. They often feed in large groups, moving fish into shallow water for easy pickings.

As you can see in this photo, white pelicans are considerably larger than brown pelicans - nearly twice the size. Cornell identifies the white pelican as one of the largest birds in North America. It has a wing span of about nine feet, vs the six-foot wing span of a brown pelican. Fortunately for the smaller brown pelican, they all get along with each other!

The first two photos are by Jim Angy, but this last one is by Jim's son, James, a University of Central Florida graduate lucky enough to learn about nature and photography from his talented father. Jame's great shot shows the white pelican's black flight feathers as it skis in for a landing. (Be sure to click on photos to enlarge.)


tsiya said...

I got to see a few white pelicans that made a stop in the Guana WMA North of St. Augustine, but other than that I never see them. I enjoyed the pics, thanks!

Florida Beach Basics said...

thanks, tsiya, and welcome to the site. come back often! marge