American white pelicans in Kane County, Illinois? Yes!! These incredible birds migrate through Kane County, Illinois, on their way south for the summer. They don’t stay very long and hop from pond to pond. If you’re lucky, you might get to see them while they’re here! As a professional wildlife and nature photographer in Illinois and the midwest, I’ve been fortunate to be able to photograph these beautiful pelicans a few times. The images here all feature them fishing or stealing fish from each other!
Some cool facts on American white pelicans:
- The fibrous plate (also called a horn or bump) on the upper mandible (bill) signifies a breeding adult and is shed after eggs are laid.
- American white pelicans do not dive for food, they dip net with their bills.
- Their wingspan is 9 feet (yes, 9!).
- They have black feathers that are only visible when their wings are spread.
- American white pelicans coordinate their swimming to drive schooling fish toward the shallows. The pelicans can then easily scoop up these corralled fish from the water. Pretty smart!
- Even only a couple of decades ago, American white Pelicans were in danger of extinction because formation of their egg shells was being ruined by the pesticide DDT, which was ingested in their food. Since the use of DDT and other environmentally dangerous chemicals has been banned, the numbers of White Pelicans in Illinois have rebounded and are now among the highest recorded for the state.
Tips for Observing American White Pelicans:
- Bring your binoculars!
- Be quiet and respectful
- Stay at a distance as to not disturb them
- They are wild animals, let them be wild
- Watch how they interact, how they fish, how they communicate with each other!
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