AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN


Pelecanus erythrorhynchos


Description:

What a beautiful bird. Unlike the Brown Pelican, these birds do not dive for fish from the air. Instead, they gather in a group to surround fish and scoop them up into their pouches. Before swallowing the catch they turn their bills vertically to drain out any water.

At nine feet, these birds have the longest wingspan of any North American bird. These pelicans will often be seen reaching great heights by riding thermal updrafts.


Appearance:

Large, all white bird with black primaries and outer secondaries. Large, orange bill with a pouch. Short orange legs and feet. Orange patch around eye. Young birds have gray-brown mottling around wing coverts. During breeding they have a short yellow crest on the back of their head and a bony plate on the upper mandible. Sexes similar. 55 to 70 inches in length.


Habitat:

Shallow lakes, coastal lagoons, and open water wetlands.


Nesting:

1-6 whitish eggs with a 29-36 day incubation period. Fledging occurs 60+ days after hatching. The nest consists of a low mound built on a marshy or rocky island. These birds nest in colonies.


Observed Locations:

  • Lake Murray, La Mesa
  • Lindo Lake, Lakeside
  • San Diego Flood Control Channel, San Diego





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Copyright © Scott Streit, 2000.