Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Carroll Adams' White Pelicans

Carroll Adams must put something in the water outside her home that attracts birds. Last year she had Bald Eagles in January, and a little later in March was visited by American White Pelicans. They rarely come through here. I've never seen them before at all, but Damien Simbeck, wildlife specialist with TVA, said he has seen them before at Wilson Dam, but that was long ago. Who knows what brought them here, but here they were.

Male & Female paddle together

I looked them up on enature.com and a few other sites, and wanted to share this information with whoever may be interested:

An American White Pelican lands among Cormorants

"American White Pelicans are gregarious birds, often associated with Double-crested Cormorants. A flock of migrating American White Pelicans is a majestic sight-a long line of ponderous birds, flapping and coasting. Each bird seems to take its cue from the one in front of it, beginning to flap and starting a glide when its predecessor does. These birds ride rising air currents to great heights, where they soar slowly and gracefully in circles.

These birds are more buoyant than Brown Pelicans and do not dive for their food. They cooperate to surround fish in shallow water, scooping them into their pouches. They take in both water and fish, and then hold their bills vertically to drain out the water before swallowing the food. Because of pesticides, human disturbance, and the draining of wetlands, this species is in decline. The number of active colonies has dropped sharply in recent decades.

description 55-70" (1.4-1.8 m). W. 8' (2.4 m). A huge white bird with a long flat bill and black wing tips. In breeding season, has short yellowish crest on back of head and horny plate on upper mandible. Young birds duskier than adults." (Source: enature.com)

You'll notice that some of the White Pelicans are sporting a horny plate on their upper mandible - these are the males, and this was obviously breeding season. We had American White Pelicans fooling around on Wheeler Lake - I think that's pretty cool.

NEWS FLASH: I just received an e-mail from audubon regarding the 11th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count. Friday, February 15-Monday, February 18. Here's the link - check it out: http://www.birdcount.org.

1 comment:

jodi said...

AWESOME! I have never seen a pelican in real life...thanks for telling us about these!