From the Missouri Conservationist Magazine
September 2018 Issue


Pelicans on some water
Noppadol Paothong

Wild Guide

American White Pelican | Pelecanus erythrorhynchos


Transient visitor in summer and winter


62 inches, wingspan 108 inches



These large water birds fly with their heads back on their body, not with their neck extended. Their white body and black wing tips contrast their orange-yellow legs, pouch, and huge bill. Yet, when flying high in formation, they can resemble a flock of much smaller snow geese.
—Mikaya Wallis

Life Cycle

American white pelicans do not breed in Missouri. Rather, their breeding territory ranges from eastern Colorado to Canada’s northwest territories and from the Dakotas to northern
California. They nest in colonies of several hundred pairs, often on islands, which helps them avoid predators. The female usually lays two to three eggs in a depression of gravel or sand.


White pelicans hunt in shallow waters, dipping their heads under water to scoop up fish, crayfish, tadpoles, and other aquatic animals. Pelicans occasionally hunt in groups, herding fish into a school.

Ecosystem Connections

Pelicans help control fish and aquatic populations, and, as ground-nesting birds, they can be prey to predators.

Did You Know?

People persecuted pelicans and many other fish-eating birds, viewing them as competition for game fish. Pesticide-use during the midcentury saw pelican populations dwindle. Outlawing DDT and creating wild-bird reservations in their breeding territories helped save pelicans from extinction.

Also in this issue

trees along a road at Peck Ranch

Peck Ranch: A Drive-Through Tour of Living History

From conservation victories to ancient arachnids, the area provides elk viewing and more.

Bird leg with an aluminum band

Getting the Bands Back Together

Aluminum bands on waterfowl give hunters, researchers a glimpse into the life of a bird.

2 men quail hunting

Always Worth the Drive

Returning to your favorite area keeps treasured memories alive.

And More...

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This Issue's Staff:

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld

Associate Editor - Bonnie Chasteen

Staff Writer - Larry Archer
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek

Creative Director - Stephanie Thurber

Art Director - Cliff White

Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter

Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner

Circulation - Laura Scheuler