If you've been awaiting the arrival of majestic white pelicans in Florida and coastal lowlands along the Gulf of Mexico, good news: they've flown south for the winter.
Authentic Florida says the birds with grapefruit-colored bills were spotted in Florida last week, near the end of October. WBRZ shared a dramatic video of white pelicans returning to LSU lakes in Baton Rouge in mid October.
Their appearance fulfills their yearly migratory patterns, which take them to the U.S. northern planes and western Canada in summer, then back to the southeast and parts of California's coast in the winter.
With an impressive wingspan of up to nine feet, these birds are much larger than their feathered cousin the brown pelican. White pelicans can weigh as much as 30 pounds, besting the smaller brown bird by as much as 20 pounds. When soaring through the skies, you can catch a glimpse of black wing tips on the snow white birds.
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Brown pelicans are an iconic Florida fixture year-round, perched on concrete pilings, boat docks, and bobbing buoys. They're rarely hesitant to be near humans, seeking out scraps along fishing piers and cleaning tables.
White pelicans, however, prefer isolated areas along estuaries, mangrove islands, and lakes. Their search for solace makes them a bit more difficult to find, but the skilled spotter won't have trouble laying eyes on these winged wonders.
Perhaps the best place to peek white pelicans is on Pelican Island, a key in the Gasparilla Sound, just offshore near Placida, Florida. Cruise lines like Captiva Cruises have daily tours around Gasparilla Sound, during which you may get your best view of the white pelicans in season.
White pelicans typically arrive in fall and then move back north in the spring and summer for breeding, so if you're on the hunt for a view of the fair fowl, now's a good time to head south, too.