White Pelicans Arrive In Will County Early For Fall Migration

Bernie Tafoya
September 14, 2018 - 1:13 pm

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- A large bird that you don’t see very often in the Chicago area has arrived a bit early during its fall migration to warmer climates.  

The American white pelican has arrived in Will County. 

It's a bird that grows to about 30 pounds, is white with black-tipped wings and a distinctive scooper on its lower beak. 

Bob Bryerton of the Forest Preserve District of Will County said the pelicans have been spotted in McKinley Woods already, at the confluence of the Des Plaines and DuPage Rivers. He said they can also be seen at the Lake Renwick Forest Preserve in Plainfield.

Their ultimate destination, he said, is Mexico, Central America, and the Gulf coasts of Texas and Louisiana.

The interpretive naturalist said that sometimes people don't realize they're seeing pelicans.

"They’re big white birds with black wing tips. People may not have realized they’re pelicans or anything. Birders did, of course, but if you’re just walking around and see them off in the distance, some big birds in a V, you’d probably think it’s geese or swans," he said.

Bryerton said that, unlike brown pelicans found in Florida, white pelicans don’t dive to catch fish. Instead, he said, "they will hunt together, kind of push fish towards the shore, towards a shallow spot, and then kind of scoop them up together."

He said you can expect to see American white pelicans in the area through October. They’ve also been known to frequent Nelson Lake in Kane County and the Chain-o-Lakes in Lake County.