American White Pelican

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Common Name: American White Pelican
Scientific Name: Pelecanus erythrorhynchos

Size: 50-70 inches (130-180 cm)

Habitat: North America. Summer Range: Breeds throughout the northern Great Plains and mountain west in the United Sates. Winter Range: Winters in the Southern United States to Central America. This pelican is found on the coast, in wetlands and inland lakes.

Status: Least Concern. Global Population: 180,000 mature individuals. There was a pronounced decline in American White Pelican numbers in the mid-20th century, perhaps attributable to the excessive spraying of DDT and other pesticides in agriculture as well as widespread draining and pollution of wetlands. But populations have recovered well after stricter environmental protection laws came into effect, and are stable or slightly increasing today. All Pelicans in the United States are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

Diet: Fish and some marine invertebrates. Prey is caught by fishing from the water surface.

Nesting: Sexes are alike. Immature birds have light grey plumage with darker brownish nape and remiges. Their bare parts are dull grey.

They breed at inland lakes and are colonial breeders, with up to 5,000 pairs per site. The birds arrive on the breeding grounds in March or April. The nest is a shallow depression scraped in the ground, in some twigs, sticks and. After about one week of courtship and nest-building, the female lays a clutch of usually 2 or 3 2-3 chalky white eggs. Both parents incubate for about one month. The young leave the nest 3-4 weeks after hatching; at this point, usually only one young per nest has survived. Hatchlings are naked at first, then grow white down feathers all over, before molting to the immature plumage.

Cool Facts: The American White Pelican is one of the largest birds in North America. The White Pelican does not dive for fish as the Brown Pelican does. Instead, it dips its head underwater to scoop up fish. Several pelicans may fish cooperatively, moving into a circle to concentrate fish, and then dipping their heads under simultaneously to catch fish.

Found in Songbird ReMix Pelicans

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