The Feather Files
Name: American White Pelican
Alias: Pelecanus erythrorhynchos
Native to and Migration: Northern breeding populations (Alberta and Saskatchewan) migrate to southern California, the Gulf States, Mexico, and Central America. Populations breeding in Texas and Mexico are resident.
Date Seen: May 2018
Location: Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, Utah
Notes: Snowy white with black flight feathers visible only when the wings are spread. A small patch of ornamental feathers on the chest can become yellow in spring. The bill and legs are yellow-orange. A yellow plate forms on the upper bill of breeding adults.
These birds feed from the water’s surface, dipping their beaks into the water to catch fish and other aquatic organisms. They often upend, like a very large dabbling duck. They do not plunge-dive the way Brown Pelicans do.