SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas – There is just something wonderful about White pelicans. Watching a pair of bonded birds gliding gracefully along a tranquil Rio Grande Valley resaca in early morning light is a joy to behold.
The Rio Grande Valley is a favorite destination for avian winter visitors, and American white pelicans that frequent RGV waterways perform exquisite aquatic ballets as they seine for fish.
Unlike Brown pelicans, American white pelicans do not dive, but rather swim leisurely along dipping their large pouched bills as they scoop up fish.
Often congregating in small groups, they cooperate with one another to corral prey, and each bird can easily consume more than four pounds of fish in a day.
White pelicans are among the largest birds in North America with a nine-foot wingspan and weighing some 15 to 20 pounds, but despite their size they are very graceful fliers.
They breed in large colonies as far north as central Canada, although there is a single resident breeding colony on an island in the upper Laguna Madre.
In the fall, the majority of White pelicans migrate southward primarily to the coastal regions of California and along the Gulf of Mexico with some traveling as far as Guatemala.
Flocks of White pelicans are currently residing in the Rio Grande Valley, and what a pleasure it is to watch these magnificent birds performing their wonderfully choreographed aquatic ballets throughout RGV waterways.
White pelicans are certainly among the shining stars of our avian winter visitors