AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)
The American white pelican is one of the largest birds in North America, with a length of around 60 inches (150 cm) and an average wingspan of 110 inches (2.8 m). Yet it can soar on favorable winds with great ease. They fly in groups, either in line or ‘V’ formations.
The bird is white except for the wing tips which are black. It has an orange, very large specialized bill, which includes an extensible pouch to scoop up fish and filter out water. The pouch is not for carrying food, contrary to popular belief. The breeding male will grow an appendice on the top part of the bill near the tip. The feet are orange. The sexes are similar.
The breeding habitat of the American white pelican includes wetlands in the middle of the USA and Canada, up north almost to the Northwest Territories. Around 20% of the species breed in the boreal forest. They build their nests in groups, and double-crested cormorants can sometimes be found with them. These birds will cooperate when hunting small fish in shallow water, bringing the fish closer together to scoop them up.