American White Pelican

American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)
J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel Island, FL; FEB 2020

The American White Pelican is one of North America’s largest birds. Most of the year, they can be found in much of the area between the mid-western US to the western coast, south into Mexico and Central America and north into Canada. In their non-breeding winter season, they collect along the southern US Atlantic and gulf coasts as well as the coast of California. They also like the central valley of California and California’s Salton Sea and Colorado River Drainage area. They breed in the northern US and Canada. Though they stay near the coast over winter, they prefer to be in the ponds and estuaries rather than along the shore.

Unlike the Brown Pelican, the American White Pelican doesn’t dive for food. They tip their head into the water and scoop their food or sometimes they dabble; tip over and stick their head in the water with their tail up like a large duck. They dine mainly on fish but also on some marine invertebrates. Several of these pelicans may join together to hunt. They wrangle fish into shallow water or sometimes towards one another. At other times, they will steal food from cormorants and other pelicans.

In one of the pictures, there is a pelican with its mouth open and in the air. It may be trying to control its body temperature. I read that there are a lot of veins and arteries in its pouch so by warming or cooling its pouch, it can warm or cool its body.

Info from Cornell Labs All About Birds. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_White_Pelican/overview

Note: please click on caption to see image at higher resolution.

American White Pelican
J. N. “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel Island, FL; FEB 2020
American White Pelican
J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel Island, FL; FEB 2020
American White Pelican
J. N. “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel Island, FL; FEB 2020
American White Pelican
J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel Island, FL; FEB 2020
American White Pelican
J. N. “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel Island, FL; FEB 2020

Please visit my website, www.earthwatcher.us to see my collection of landscapes and wildlife.

These and other images are available to purchase by contacting larry.klink@earthwatcher.us.

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