April 22, 2008

Migration of the white pelican

What a surprise we had today, as we drove home by the flooded waters of the Mississippi and Rock rivers...We saw hunreds of white pelicans! This was a first for me , as in my 63 years, had never seen them before! Every spring we always enjoy watching the Eagles soar , as they nest in the bluffs and trees of the Mississippi River and other areas . Many migrating birds come through our area as they head north for the summer. Unlike the brown pelicans, which are year-round residents of Florida, white pelicans spend only brief time here in the midwest , as their migrating habits are based on the melting and freezing of fresh water in the northern lakes.
White pelicans search for food in large groups. Instead of diving for food the way brown pelicans do, white pelicans swim on the surface in a semicircle and herd the fish to shallower water near the shore. Then using their pouches as fishnets, the white pelicans submerge their heads and necks and scoop up the fish. This probably explains why they enjoyed "fishing" today in the back waters of the flooding river. It was a spectacular sight!
It is spring time here and they are beginning their journey north again from the warmer winter climates to the south. I read that this cycle is repeated every year. This is why they are often referred to as “snowbirds.”
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