Birds of Bear River MBR – American White Pelicans

I saw plenty of American White Pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) earlier this week while spending two mornings at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge (aka Bear River National Wildlife Refuge) in northern Utah.

American White Pelican flying over Bear River MBRAmerican White Pelican flying over Bear River MBR

The pelicans have already gone into summer plumage, they have shed the caruncles seen on their bills during breeding season and now instead of a pure white head they are showing a bit of darkness there.

American White Pelican in flight over a marshAmerican White Pelican in flight over a marsh

I saw the American White Pelicans group feeding in the ponds and drainage canals on the refuge and flying in squadrons in the air. A couple of times the birds were flying in a line and they appeared to be following each others movements, it reminded me of the “Crack the Whip, a childhood game I used to play while skating.

American White Pelican fly byAmerican White Pelican fly by

Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge is an excellent location for finding and photographing American White Pelicans who have wing spans of over nine feet. I photographed these in between taking images of Western and Clark’s Grebes, more to come on the grebes soon!



  1. Carol Mattingly June 7, 2012 at 8:07 am

    They seem to be flying with such grace and they’re so beautiful. And that morning light blue. Carol

    • Mia McPherson June 10, 2012 at 6:39 am

      Thanks Carol, for such large birds they can be very graceful in flight, especially in groups where they look like a well choreographed ballet.

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