Pelican pit stops in Bear Pen Park
Dec 27, 2012 | 2352 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Slightly off its migratory path, this American White Pelican spent some time with the Canada Geese at Bear Pen Park in Cleveland.

The bird was most likely headed to Mexico for the winter.

The American White Pelican rivals the Trumpeter Swan as the longest bird native to North America. Both very large and plump, it has an overall length is about 50–70 in., courtesy of the huge beak. It has a wingspan of about 95–120 in. The species also has the second largest average wingspan of any North American bird, after the California Condor. The plumage is almost entirely bright white, except the black primary and secondary remiges, which are hardly visible except in flight.

There are more than half a dozen species of pelicans, but all of them have the famous throat pouch for which the birds are best known. These large birds use their elastic pouches to catch fish—though different species use it in different ways.

Pelicans are social birds and typically travel in flocks, often strung out in a line.

American White Pelicans nest in colonies of several hundred pairs on islands in remote brackish and freshwater lakes of inland North America. The most northerly nesting colony can be found on islands in the rapids of the Slave River between Fort Fitzgerald, Alberta and Fort Smith, Northwest Territories. About 10-20 percent of the population uses Gunnison Island in the Great Basin's Great Salt Lake as a nesting ground. The southernmost colonies are in southwestern Ontario and northeastern California.