Pelicans Enjoy Kaskaskia River

Published April 8, 2013


Kaskaskia River – The American White Pelicans have returned to the Kaskaskia River Project on their way north to their spring nesting areas. Pelecanus erythrorhynchos, is one of the largest birds in North America. These large and plump birds have an overall length between 50–70 inches, a wingspan of 9-10 feet, and average weight between 11 and 20 lbs. This primarily white bird has black-tipped wings, and a yellow bill that measures up to 15 inches in length.

The Kaskaskia River provides ideal resting habitat for the migrating American White Pelican. Large flocks can be spotted in numerous places along the Kaskaskia River with the best viewing at Kaskaskia Lock and Dam, near Modoc. You will rarely see just one pelican in an area. Ideally they work together to corral fish to each other. While sometimes in deep water this is not easily possible for them and therefore one may prefer to forage alone. Unlike the Brown Pelican (P.occidentalis), the American White Pelican does not dive for its food. Instead it catches its prey while swimming.

The American White Pelican winter on the Gulf Coast, California, and Mexico. During the spring they migrate to their summer nestling areas in the Great Plains and Great Basin. The White Pelican migrates February through early April, and again October through November.

For more information on pelican viewing please contact Kaskaskia River Project Office at (618) 284-7160 or e-mail at KaskyL&

Travis Little

Release no. 13-004