Scoop – American White Pelican
Rescued: October 2004
Scoop was rescued in October 2004 from a pond in West Alton, Missouri. Due to an old shoulder injury that had healed improperly, he could not fly and the tip of his wing had to be amputated. Scoop has adapted well to life as a World Bird Sanctuary resident and has even made some appearances at our Birds in Concert programs.
If you see him fully open his bill, you will quickly understand how he got his name. It takes a lot of fish to fill the pouch below that bill!
Species: American White Pelican
Scientific Name: Pelecanus erythorhynchos
Description: Adults – white with black primaries and outer secondaries; yellowish pouch connected to the lower mandible that stretches up to six inches; webbed feet are bright orange; legs are orange and extremely short; Immature – mostly white wing coverts mottled head and neck grayish; Juvenile – dusky overall
Sex: sexes indistinguishable except during breeding season when the male develops a fibrous plate on the upper part of the beak, the crest becomes bright yellow, and the bill becomes bright orange; the “horn” is shed after the eggs are laid
Age: 12-34 years
Weight: 15-20 lbs.
Habitat: brackish and freshwater lakes, salt bays, marshes, beaches and rivers
Status: not currently threatened, but is “listed” as a “species of special concern”
Range: northern California, western Nevada, Utah, Colorado, northeastern South Dakota, southwestern Minnesota and occasionally the central coast of Texas; they winter along the Pacific in Central California, south along the Mexican coast to Guatemala and Nicaragua; also along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico; occasionally found along the Mississippi River
Behavior: they nest in colonies of several hundred pairs on islands in remote lakes of inland North America; female lays 2-3 chalky white eggs in a shallow depression on the ground; both parents incubate and feed the young by regurgitation; young are dependent for about 5 months
Diet: more than 4 pounds of fish per day; American white pelicans do not dive to catch prey – it simply floats along the water and scoops up fish with its enormous bill; the bill can hold 3 gallons of water; after fish are caught, the bill is pointed downward allowing the water to drain out; often fish in groups
Vocalization: adults rarely make any noise, but when they do it is usually a low grunt
- Pelicans have a vertebra in their necks which prevents them from ever raising their face.