As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Column: White pelicans are unusual birds

The spring bird migration is starting to wind down now, with the later tropical migrants and shorebirds now showing up. There have also been a number of unusual birds on the Lakeshore — great black-backed gull, Franklin’s and laughing gulls, Bonaparte’s gulls, and the little gull, a rare European visitor. This year there have been an unusual number of little gulls seen on the lakefront.

Another bird, much more obvious and perhaps surprising, is also being seen — American white pelicans. We usually think of pelicans as tropical birds, and if you visit the gulf coast of Texas in winter you can find them. Under that assumption I’ve heard people speculate that pelicans we see around here have been blown far off course by storms, but that’s not the case.

The brown pelican is a tropical bird, and is restricted to coastal areas to the south. The American white, however, is a bird that nests in lakes on the prairies to our west, their breeding range extending into Canada. If the birds we see here have been blown off course it’s that they are farther to the east than usual.

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