Tuesday, February 4, 2014

American White Pelican

The American white pelican is second to the California condor for having the longest wingspan of any bird in North America. Their feathers are all white, except for some black flight feathers that are mostly only visible in flight. During breeding season the throat sack, iris, bare skin around the eye and feet turn orange. Breeding also brings out a laterally flat horn on the upper bill about one-third up from the tip. This horn is shed after breeding and laying eggs. They nest on islands in lakes in inland North America, including about 10% to 20% on Gunnison Island in the Great Salt Lake. They winter on the coasts from California to Florida south to Panama and along the Mississippi River as far north as St. Louis. Brown pelicans dive for food. White pelicans get their food while swimming. They often gather in groups of 10 or more to cooperate and corral food to each other. 
American white pelican at J.N. "Ding" Darling NWR on Sanibel Island, Florida.
Three American white pelicans on Sanibel Island. 
A fourth white pelican in the background. 

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