Friday, April 26, 2013

White Pelican - A Sight to Behold

White Pelican

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.

10 comments:

  1. That is so beautiful and such interesting information on the differences between the white pelican and the brown pelican. I couldn't find a comparison when I was looking up pelicans! Thank you so much!
    Best Wishes,
    jean :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome. Despite their similar appearance they have very different behaviors. The white pelican migrates great distances in the summer to nest in large colonies.

      Delete
  2. A beak like that helps in not having to dive so often. I am surprised that they breed so far inland and upland as Colorado. Do biologists have any theories as to what's so preferable about those habitats?

    John at The Bathroom Monologues

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They must feel safer in the large nesting colonies that are usually situated on remote islands in freshwater lakes, where they are isolated from mammalian predators.

      Delete
  3. Interesting! Pelicans that are far away from the ocean. Nature will find a way...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I guess so, we see them here on our little mountain lake.

      Delete
  4. Interesting to read about the pelicans - we are near the beach, but I have never seen a pelican in RI - Come to think of it, I don't think I've ever seen one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm always surprised to see them in the mountains, they look out of place but it really is one of their natural summer habitats.

      Delete
  5. Wow, I've never seen a pelican that colour before! And never knew they lived away from the ocean.

    Rinelle Grey

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They migrate great distances in the spring to breed mostly in Canada and return to the ocean for the winter along the Pacific Coast and the Gulf of Mexico.

      Delete