With a 9-foot wingspan, American White Pelicans are one of the largest birds in North America. In recent years, the appearance of these massive birds is a more-or-less regular thing in northwest Ohio. But that wasn’t always the case.
Before the 1950s, American White Pelicans populated the Great Lakes in flocks numbering in the hundreds.
Then they disappeared.
They were one of the species (along with Peregrine Falcon, Bald Eagle, Coopers Hawk, Osprey, and Brown Pelican) that were affected by organochlorine pesticides (such as DDT).
BSBO Research Director, Mark Shieldcastle, recalls that White Pelicans first returned to the Great Lakes in the early 1990s in the Green Bay area. Shieldcastle predicts that when the Hen and Chicken Island area (Lake Erie waters of Ontario, Canada) gets too crowded, we could see American White Pelicans nesting near our area. “They’re almost certain to be found nesting in the U.S. Great Lakes in the near future.”
Photo of American White Pelicans in flight taken by Jasmine Cupp at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge on Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018.
This is a Facebook post I wrote for Black Swamp Bird Observatory on September 24, 2018. I am the Communications Director there. In my time there (my one year anniversary will be February 5, 2019), my love for birds, nature, and conservation has grown exponentially. I cannot express how happy I am to learn about the outside world everyday and to be able to share that same feeling with others.
I am starting Great Lakes Pelican as a homage to my new life. Not as much of a well-known story as the recovery of the Bald Eagle, but American White Pelicans are also a great example of conservation and the persistence of nature. I look to share places I go, things I learn, and people I meet here. Please stop by if you’d like to see the journey.