The American White Pelican in Arkansas
Yesterday was a beautiful day and while enjoying the outside we noticed around 20 or more American White Pelicans swimming in the river behind our site... They are on their way to Florida or Texas where they spend the winter months. During the summer they go up to South Dakota, Canada and a few other northwestern states...
It is a very large and plump bird & has a wingspan of about 95–120 in and weighs between 11 and 20 lb. The plumage is almost entirely bright white, except the black on their wings, which are hardly visible except in flight. From early spring until after breeding has finished in mid-late summer, the breast feathers have a yellowish hue. After moulting into the eclipse plumage, the upper head often has a grey hue, as blackish feathers grow between the small wispy white crest. The bill is long and flat, with a large throat sac, and in the breeding season vivid orange like the iris, the bare skin around the eye, and the feet. In the breeding season, there is a laterally flattened "horn" on the upper bill, about one-third the bill's length behind the tip. This is shed off after the birds have mated and laid their eggs, and outside the breeding season the bare parts become duller in color, with the facial skin yellow and the bill, pouch and feet an orangy-flesh color. Apart from the difference in size, males and females look exactly alike. Immature birds have light grey plumage with darker brownish nape and remiges. Their bare parts are dull grey. Hatchlings are naked at first, then grow white down feathers all over, before moulting to immature plumage.
Here is a migration map of the American White Pelican
When we were in South Dakota last summer I saw the American White Pelicans flying around... Ralph thought I was crazy seeing them but as we later found out this is where they come to nest during the summer... The American White Pelican is one of the largest birds found in South Dakota. They are migrants through most of the state, but do nest in some of the northeastern counties. Unlike their cousins, the Brown Pelican, American White Pelicans do not plunge dive, but feed by dipping their large pouched bill into the water and scooping up fish. Note the raised bump on the top of the beak (shown in bird to the right) is only present during the breeding season.