Nature's trail leads me to the mighty Mississippi river today. It's the time of year when thousands of waterfowl are staging on the river. Ducks, geese, swans and pelicans gather in huge flocks to rest and feed before making the long journey to their wintering grounds in the southern US and Mexico.
I'm lucky to live only 45 minutes from Old Muddy, one of the largest migratory flyways in North America. Today I'm watching the large flocks of white pelicans who gather in the shallows in the middle of the river. I watch them from a half mile away using a spotting scope as they stand on a sandbar! Its fun to see how they can maneuver their large, long bills to preen their snow white body feathers and their jet black flight feathers.
Other large birds like geese, swans and cranes, the pelicans tend to travel in large flocks. They string out in single file and often can be seen circling high on thermals like sandhill cranes. With a wingspan of 8-9 feet they are some of the largest birds in North America.
Even from a half mile away I could hear their low groans and grunts as they clipped their long yellow-orange bills into the water for fish. They don't dive into the water like their cousins the brown pelicans.
The white pelicans are birds of the prairies but with the loss of their historical habitat they are seen here now only in the spring or fall. They spend their summers nesting in Manitoba and migrate to the southeastern US for the winter.
The pelican, the pelican
His bill can hold more than his belly can.
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