American White Pelican

It is springtime in the midwest. Great flocks of American White Pelicans Pelecanus erythrorhynchosare fly north toward breeding grounds. We are fortunate in Iowa to have many of them visit our lakes and rivers. Dozens of the great birds were on the Iowa River in downtown Iowa City today giving residents close views. These birds are the biggest in the state at up to 20 lbs and with 9 ft wingspans. The loud roar heard in the videos is from water spilling over the nearby dam.

The pelicans periodically glided toward and landed below the dam in search of fish. They drifted downstream, stayed for a while, then returned to the churning waters below the dam.

As they flew overhead, one could see the black feathers on their outstretched wings. They are amazingly graceful flyers. Here are two flying by the power plant smokestack next to the river.

Often we looked up into the blue sky to see large flocks flying north or swarms of birds circling in the thermals above the city.


10 thoughts on “American White Pelican

  1. Jan

    We saw them this morning on the Iowa River beneath the Burlington St. dam. Thanks for inspiring me to look to see if they were there!

  2. shoreacres

    I watched our last large group circling in the sky last week as they prepared to take their leave. Their pilings at the edge of the bay sure do look empty now,, but maybe some of the landed in your area!

    1. Jim R Post author

      Some even hang around here all summer. We’ve driven along the Miss. River before this time of year and seen 10s of thousands sitting in fields. It looks like the field is snow covered.


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