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American White Pelican

Pelecanus erythrorhynchos

The American White Pelican breeds on lakes throughout the northern prairies and mountain West, but winters are spent in coastal areas. This bird is the only species of pelican to grow a “horn” on their upper bill. The odd looking growth is a fibrous plate, which is shed after the breeding season is over.

These are one of the largest birds in North America. When I’ve seen these great birds take off or land in formation on some inland lake, I’m reminded of a squadron of B29 bombers flying in formation. Watching them feed on the water’s surface in choreographed groups is equally entertaining, as they circle around schooling fish in an ever tightening circle of birds, simultaneously dipping their great bills into the water to catch their confused prey.

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