Most people associate the white pelican with an ocean habitat so it may be surprising to learn that they are quite common in landlocked Colorado during the summer. They spend winter on the coasts but breed only on inland lakes and reservoirs throughout the northern Great Plains and the mountain west.
When some of these large, prehistoric-looking birds stop over for a few weeks each July, they make a startling impression. The summer visitors float about the water searching for small trout and crayfish. White pelicans employ an interesting feeding strategy that offers success for an entire squadron.
Unlike brown pelicans that dive for their food, these intelligent birds, while paddling at the surface, will encircle fish or herd them into the shallows. The seafood becomes concentrated and can be easily scooped up into the pelican's distinctive, fishnet pouch.
The bulky, white pelicans are exceptional swimmers but humorously awkward and clumsy on land. In the air, these master aviators are surprisingly graceful. Watching a white pelican, massive wings outstretched, skimming across Evergreen Lake on a warm summer evening, is truly a sight to behold.