Mudflap – American White Pelican
Received: October 2009
In 2009, Mudflap came to World Bird Sanctuary from Iowa State University Raptor Rehab. She is unable to be released due to a fused wrist joint which prevents flight. She enjoys her days as a permanent resident , pelican ambassador and companion to Scoop.
Due to her shorter bill and overall size, Mudflap is a female. She is also shy and less aggressive at feeding time than Scoop. Mudflap does thoroughly enjoy her pool and will enthusiastically catch up live fish when offered!
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.