White Pelican

Unlike the brown pelicans, which are year-round residents of Florida, white pelicans spend only part of the year here. In fact, it is estimated that over 1,500 white pelicans migrate to the area from October through March. Traveling from as far away as Idaho, Minnesota and Canada, large groups of these birds come here to enjoy the warmer winter. Their migrating habits are based on the melting and freezing of fresh water in the northern lakes.

White pelicans search for food in large groups. Instead of diving for food the way brown pelicans do, white pelicans swim on the surface in a semicircle and herd the fish to shallower water near the shore. Then using their pouches as fishnets, the white pelicans submerge their heads and necks and scoop up the fish.

When spring approaches, the white pelicans begin their journey north again. This cycle is repeated every year. This is why they are often referred to as “snowbirds.”

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