SPECIES PROFILE: American White Pelican
Scientific name: Pelecanus erythrorhynchos
Habitat: In winter, American white pelicans are found on large lakes and
reservoirs, the Mississippi River and its backwaters, and coastal estuaries and
bays in Mississippi. It breeds mainly in the Northern Plains of the United States
and Canada. A resident population is found in coastal Texas. Non-breeding birds
are found all year along the Lower Mississippi River.
Status in Mississippi: Fairly common migrant and winter visitor in Mississippi.
Hundreds of birds can be found in one flock. An estimated 200,000 adult American
white pelicans are thought to exist in North America. The number of breeding colonies
and adults are thought to be increasing.
Diet: Eats mainly fish. They do not dive for food like brown pelicans
but feed cooperatively on the water’s surface. White pelicans have been known to
feed at catfish farms.
Appearance: One of the largest birds in North America, having wingspans
of 9 feet or more. Mainly white with black wingtips and trailing edges of wings.
It has a large yellow bill. American white pelicans are graceful in flight and sometimes
fly in “V” formations.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology species profile
Map of American white pelican observations in Mississippi (zoom in to see reports)
tracking of pelicans in the Mississippi River Valley