A Christmas Gift
Majestic White Pelicans Lay Over in Motts Channel
Second largest of any American bird after California condor
TSTORY AND PHOTOS BY PAT BRADFORD WO days before Christmas, residents along
Harbor Island’s Motts Channel were treated to a
unique sight. A flock of more than 30 American
white pelicans landed in the protected waters
near Seapath Yacht Club.
Puzzled residents at first thought they were Airlie
Garden’s beloved white swans, an infrequent guest in the
creek when the pond water at Airlie becomes too hot
during the summer. On closer inspection, this flock was
definitely pelicans, not brown like coastal pelicans, but
larger, snowy white with black wingtips.
White pelicans have an 8 to10-foot wingspan, second
22 february 2022
largest of any American bird after the California condor.
Unlike the smaller, diving coastal brown pelican, white
pelicans prefer to hunt in shallow, slow-moving fresh water
off brackish bodies of water. They spend summers in the
inland waters of the northern United States into Canada,
migrating south during the winter months.
With a winter storm barreling across the United States the
week of Christmas, this flock settled in the creek for a rest,
swimming together in a tight formation before majestically
taking off, circling to gain altitude.
Previously, a large flock was photographed on Masonboro
Island in June 2018.