Did you recently see a pelican in South Dakota?
If so, I’m guessing you are here because you want to know more about the incredible bird you saw!
First, let me assure you that you REALLY did see a pelican. It’s a misconception that these large birds are always found near the ocean!
I’m assuming that the pelican that you saw in South Dakota was large and completely white, except for the orange bill?
If so, then you got the chance to see the American White Pelican!
- GIANT white pelican with a long neck and long bill.
- Yellow patch at the base of the bill that wraps around their eyes.
- Breeding adults have an odd plate that sticks up from the end of the bill.
It’s hard to miss an American White Pelican in South Dakota due to its massive size!
They typically weigh between 11 and 20 pounds (5.0 – 9.1 kg), but it’s their wingspan that is most impressive. When fully spread, the wings measure over 9 feet (2.7 m) from tip to tip, which is the second widest in North America, behind the California Condor.
American White Pelican Range Map
In South Dakota, American White Pelicans are found on large freshwater lakes or shallow wetlands during the breeding season and migration. As winter approaches, they migrate south and are typically found near coastlines.
These pelicans don’t dive to catch fish but instead stick their heads underwater, using their large neck pouches to scoop them up. They feed very similarly to a dabbling duck, like a Mallard, except for the fact American White Pelicans are enormous.
Interestingly, individual pelicans commonly work together to herd fish to shallow areas to make them easier to catch. Check out the strategy below!
Interestingly, chicks that are still INSIDE the egg can squawk to convey discomfort if conditions become too hot or too cold! Otherwise, adults are generally silent.
These large birds look especially magnificent while in flight! Their wide wingspans allow them to soar gracefully for long distances high in the sky. If you see them flying in a V-formation, it’s hard not to stop and stare as they almost look prehistoric.
Have you seen this unique pelican before in South Dakota?
Tell us WHERE in the COMMENTS section below!