HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) – Gliding gracefully in with their nine-foot wings spread wide, wintering White pelicans are faithfully delivering a White Christmas to southernmost Texas.

Among the plethora of migratory birds winging it southward to warmer climes, none is more distinctive than the American White Pelican with its large size, snow-white feathering, and jet-black wingtips.

They are among the largest birds in North America with their nearly 10-foot wingspan and weighing some 15 to 20 pounds, but despite their size, they are enchantingly elegant fliers.

They breed in large colonies as far north as central Canada, although there is a single resident nesting colony on an island in the upper Laguna Madre.

Unlike our resident brown pelicans, white pelicans do not dive, but rather swim leisurely along dipping their large pouched bills in unison as they scoop up fish.

Congregating in groups ranging from a handful to dozens, they cooperate with one another to corral prey, and each bird can easily consume more than four pounds of fish daily.

The Rio Grande Valley is a favorite migratory destination, and you don’t have to venture out into the wildlands to see them as dozens of white pelicans frequent this downtown Brownsville resaca.

Since White pelicans can live for a quarter century, it is likely many of these birds have been returning to this ancient meandering of the Rio Grande for decades.

Indeed, several wear numbered silver bands, indicating their birthplaces some 2,000 miles distant in Minnesota and North Dakota from as far back as 2009.

What a pleasure it is to watch these magnificent birds performing their wonderfully choreographed aquatic ballets throughout Rio Grande Valley waterways.

These avian winter Texans from the North Country sure do seem to savor soaking up the sun on their favorite resaca and enjoying a relaxing South Texas siesta.