Everglades white pelicans: Florida’s seasonal residents

American White Pelicans Flying Low Over The MarshWhite pelicans are giant, majestic birds that travel and congregate in groups as large as 50. These elegant beasts fly flawlessly despite their weight and wingspan. The average adult white pelican weighs anywhere from 12 to 30 pounds, and its wingspan extends roughly nine feet. Its impressive wingspan is second only to the California condor, which boasts the largest wingspan in North America.

But due to their transient nature, white pelicans only grace Florida with their presence during the winter months. And they truly are a sight to behold. The large birds are completely white except for their black-tipped wings, which are only visible in flight. Unlike their relatives, white pelicans fish by floating through the water and occasionally dipping their heads underneath as opposed to diving.

And did you know white pelicans look different in the Everglades than they do up north? During a white pelican’s stay in the Everglades, its bill develops horns. This adaptation protects gular pouches during territorial fights that occur at northern breeding sites. Once the birds lay their eggs, the horns fall off.

Do you want to spot Everglades white pelicans?

More elusive than their brown pelican cousins, white pelicans seek solace in the uninhabited areas of the Everglades. They frequently gather in the small, marshy islands sprinkled about Florida Bay. The best time to see them is during low tide, where they’ll rest on mudflats. Another popular place for white pelican sightings sits at the end of the Snake Bight Trail in Everglades National Park. Other Everglades white pelican sightings have occurred at the Flamingo Visitor Center of ENP and 10,000 Islands near Everglades City.

To see the most Everglades wildlife, schedule an airboat tour

Airboat rides provide the best way to see an abundance of Everglades plant and wildlife. From alligators to white pelicans, Everglades airboat tours are bound to amaze you. To schedule your Everglades adventure, contact Captain Mitch’s Everglades Airboat Tours at 239-695-3377.