The Migration of the White Pelicans

October 10, 2020 Birds, My Solo Trip

Just about five days ago I saw the first small group of white pelicans arrive at Fort Desoto Park, in St. Petersburg, Florida, it was very exciting since I had never seen their migration before. Two days later I was able to see groups of more than 100 birds!

White pelicans spend summers in lakes and estuaries in the northern United States and Canada and migrate south during winter. They travel thousands of kilometers in large groups, often in a V formation, reaching the southern coasts of the United States and Central America in both oceans. In Colombia they have been sighted on the Island of San Andrés.

White Pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) are very large birds that can measure up to 1.80 m in wingspan, but they are very light and only weigh between 5 and 8 kilos.

They feed on very small fish, salamanders, frogs, and other animals that are found near the surface of the water or hidden among the vegetation on the shores of lakes. Their way of feeding is very different from that of the common pelicans, since the whites fish from the surface of the water, instead of diving in search of the fish.

Many times, they fish in groups forming a circle and striking the surface of the water with their wings, scaring their prey to catch them easily.

They reproduce only during the summer forming large colonies, where they build their nests in the sand and usually lay two eggs, of which only one chick survives, since the strongest kills the most fragile.

Upon leaving the nest, the juveniles gather in large groups where the parents identify their own chick to feed.

This week has been very busy within the park with the arrival of the pelicans and they have closed some areas to provide protection, but they do not understand the limits very well and for my fortune, I have been able to observe, photograph and film them, here I share some images.

Photography © Victoria Restrepo

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