White Pelicans

The following was taken in part from an article published in the Shreveport Times Dec. 2002, by Jimmy Watson: (Interesting facts on the white pelicans included in the article were provided by Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries biologist Jimmy Ernst.) 

White pelicans, one of the largest birds in North America, often stop over in this area on their migration to the Gulf Coast. White pelicans, unlike brown pelicans, are not native to Louisiana and generally winter on the Gulf Coast. Like ducks, they breed in Canada and in the Northwestern United States, fly south for the winter, then back north in the spring. White pelicans tend to travel and feed in flocks. There can be a dozen to several hundred birds in a flock.

 White pelicans are not on the endangered species list but are protected by state and federal law under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Cardinals, mockingbirds and similar song birds fall under the same protection. White pelicans are very social and nest together in colonies. They leave Canada before the lakes freeze over and fly south.

One of the world's largest birds, weighing 11 to 18 pounds, pelicans can have a wing span of up to three feet. Beneath its long, flattened bill is a bright yellow-orange pouch for feeding.

Adult pelicans can consume up to five pounds of food per day and prefer warm-water fish, salamanders, frogs and aquatic invertebrates. Brown pelicans travel and breed in small groups but a flock of white pelicans can number into the hundreds. When feeding, they bunch up and drive little fish into shallow water, where the entire flock dip their heads underwater at the same time to catch the fish.