Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the March 24, 2007 Newsletter issued from Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve, QUERÉTARO, MÉXICO

Tuesday morning about 50 White Pelicans appeared above Reserve HQ circling low and majestically the way White Pelicans do. They presented enough of a show for several of the workers to point and call to their friends. I guess the flock had spent the night at the reservoir next to us. Last fall I saw individuals and small flocks here, but since then they've been missing. My snapshot of Tuesday's flock in tight formation as they circled, gradually gaining altitude above our Sweet Acacias is shown below:


Most White Pelicans spend their summers in western Canada and a few spots in the northwestern US. They overwinter in the southern US and throughout most of Mexico into northern Central America.

It's hard to believe that spring migration is already here, but this flock was surely migrating. On the Internet I see that during spring migration White Pelicans pass through Oklahoma as early as March 11th, so this flock on March 20th had every reason to be migrating. Certainly after this little flock had circle and circled, each rotation a little higher than the last, they all drifted off in the right direction -- exactly toward the north.

It felt good seeing those big birds (wingspread 9.2 feet (2.8 m) heading north on the last day of winter, behaving exactly as they should. I hope they are graciously received up there and find healthy habitats awaiting them.