Pelican, pelican, its beak can hold more than its belly can

March Migration Madness is under way today

I bought an Oxford cloth shirt a few years ago with a pelican pattern on it. It was on clearance from a rather preppy purveyor of clothing. I generally wore it for our trips to the Bahamian island of Eleuthera; it was the perfect garment for the flight over there, along with sunglasses, sandals and a pair of knee-length shorts. It was a bit more of a jaunty look that I’d generally prefer, but I loved the pelicans that dotted the shirt.

The best thing is that the shirt also worked in the Midwest. The pelicans looked like American White Pelicans, denizens of the interior lakes of the middle of the continent. So I’d occasionally wear this to a summer barbecue or while kicking off a camping trip to a bucolic corner of the Great Lakes.

There’s a tendency to write about species in decline, so it’s also good to write about species that are increasing in numbers. American White Pelicans appear to be doing just that. They’re actually expanding their range in the Midwest. I pretty much never saw one growing up in Ohio. But we now see them annually on our sojourns to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan via Green Bay, Wis., where there’s a breeding population.

American White Pelican faces off today against another stunning bird, Northern Pintail, in the first matchup of Indiana Audubon’s March Migration Madness. Who will advance to the Airborne 8 between these two aquatic species? Pelicans enjoy a higher profile societally, perhaps in part due to the association with baby delivery and their unusual appearance.  

Pick: American White Pelican


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