American White Pelican

1/1000s at f8.0, ISO:800, Canon EOS-1D X, EF800mm+1.4x III converter


American White Pelicans nest in colonies on islands in remote brackish and freshwater lakes of inland North America. Unlike the Brown Pelican, the American White Pelican does not dive for its food. Instead it catches its prey while swimming. American White Pelicans like to come together in groups of a handful of birds or so to feed, as they can thus cooperate and chase fish to one another. The birds arrive on the breeding grounds in March or April; nesting starts between early April and early June. The nest is a shallow depression scraped in the ground, in some twigs, sticks, reeds or similar debris have been gathered. After about one week of courtship and nest-building, the female lays a clutch of usually 2 or 3 eggs, sometimes just one, sometimes up to six. Both parents incubate for about 4 weeks to one month. The young leave the nest 34 weeks after hatching; at this point, usually only one young per nest has survived. They spend the following month in a seabird colony, moulting into immature plumage and eventually learning to fly. After fledging, the parents care for their offspring some three more weeks, until the close family bond separates. In late summer or early fall, the birds gather in larger groups on rich feeding grounds in preparation for the migration to the winter quarters. They migrate south by September or October. They winter on the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico coasts from central California and Florida south to Panama, and along the Mississippi river at least as far north as St. Louis, Missouri.
Yellowstone, N.P.
 
08/24/2014