The photographer writes that it’s hard to believe that there’s pelicans in Michigan, but here they are. In an in-depth Great Lakes Echo feature, Eric Freedman writes that American White Pelicans are expanding their breeding range in Michigan & North America:
The species “is undergoing a dramatic expansion of its breeding range in North America,” the study published in the journal Ontario Birds said. “The nesting on Lake Erie, so far from the colony sites in Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, seems unusual. Why such a large dispersal from the nearest breeding colony 550 km (340 miles) away?”
Now they’re spreading eastward.
…That distance “is and is not unusual,” said study co-author D.V. Chip Weseloh, a retired Great Lakes waterbird specialist with the Canadian Wildlife Service. “Pelicans are strange birds and will range far and wide hundreds of miles to feed,” a feat documented with radio transmitters.
With its 9-foot wingspan, the American white pelican is one of North America’s largest birds and feeds primarily on fish, according to the Audubon Society.
The overall population declined through the first half of the 1900s but has grown substantially since the 1970s. It’s protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List categorizes it as a species of least concern.
View more in Kare Hav’s Pt. Lookout/Augres gallery on Flickr.