It’s Canada’s birthday today — Happy 149th to all my Canadian friends and relatives, eh?! What better way to celebrate than to feature the American White Pelican, but in Canada. Highly symbolic of the identity crisis many in the country have, feeling neither American nor Canadian.
Pelicans are great birds to observe in nature. There’s nothing like watching a group of them catch a thermal and ride it for hundreds of yards, looking more like a formation of fighter aircraft than living creatures. Among the largest of North America’s birds, the American White Pelican is almost pure white, but with black feathers in its wings visible only when flying. Immature birds, like the one featured above, often have some dusky feathers in their head and back.
American White Pelicans have large heads and huge, heavy bills that make them look awkward and belie their grace while flying. They are excellent fisherman, although lack the finesse of an eagle, swallowing fish whole and sometimes tipping over as they do. Groups of pelicans may work together to herd fish into the shallows for easier feeding. They’ve an broad range up the middle of North America that extends from Mexico into Northern Canada. These pelicans can live for several decades.