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2021: Missouri – Manny look at that Pelican fly!

This may arguably be the most famous one-liner in movie history, in reference to a pelican. “Look at these pelicans fly. Come on, pelicans!”

Look at this pelican fly!

Sure Tonya Montana was no Phoebe Snetsinger, but even I knew that was no pelican.

American white pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) are found throughout North America. They breed in inland, prairie regions of the United States and Canada and over-winter in southern and coastal areas.

The American white pelican is about four feet tall and has an impressive nine-foot wingspan. It is entirely white except for its black-edged wings that are visible when the American white pelican is in flight. It has a long neck, an enormous orange bill with a distensible gular (throat) pouch, and short orange legs with big webbed feet. In the breeding season, it has a light yellowish crest on the back of its head and a nuptial tubercle or fibrous plate on the upper part of its bill. The nuptial tubercle will fall off when mating season is over and the crest will turn gray.

A nuptial tubercle or fibrous plate on the upper part of its bill.

American white pelicans are one of the largest boreal birds. They can weigh as much as 30 pounds. The bill can hold 3 gallons of water, and after the fish have been caught the bill is pointed downward allowing the water to drain, and then the bill is raised and the bird swallows its catch.

In A Sand County Almanac, pioneering conservationist Aldo Leopold described a migrating group of American White Pelicans this way: “Let a squadron of southbound pelicans but feel a lift of prairie breeze… and they sense at once that here is a landing in the geological past, a refuge from that most relentless of aggressors, the future. With queer antediluvian grunts, they set wing, descending in majestic spirals to the welcoming wastes of a bygone age.”

A group of pelicans has many collective nouns, including a “brief”, “pod”, “pouch”, “scoop”, and “squadron” of pelicans.

Conservations status: Colonies are vulnerable to disturbance and habitat loss. The total population probably declined through the first half of the 20th century, a substantial increase since the 1970s.

Conservation status – Reference source:

Until the next adventure and thank you for stopping by!

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