American White Pelican Flight Over Bear River MBR

American White Pelican flight over Bear RiverAmerican White Pelican flight over Bear River – Nikon D810, f8, 1/2500, ISO 500, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mmm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I haven’t really spent much time photographing American White Pelicans this breeding season and it is probably time to do just that. These large, white birds have wingspans of 9 feet or more and breed here in Utah. The pelicans are probably still feeding their young this time of the year and when they do they make long trips from islands in the Great Salt Lake to freshwater areas like the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge to catch fish to feed their chicks.

One of my favorite things is to see is squadrons of American White Pelicans wheeling in the sky high overhead circling until they are out of sight. When they turn in the sky some times it appears that they have disappeared into thin air and with the next turn they look like they have appeared out of no where.

This American White Pelican was flying over Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge last July with the Promontory Mountains in the distance. I recall it being a very clear but very hot day.

I guess I’d better get myself ready for the day, pack up my gear and hit the road. I’ve been out of the field for too long.

Life is good.



  1. Elephant's Child June 16, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    Squadrons of pelicans? I do happy dances when I see two or three.

    • Mia McPherson June 16, 2016 at 4:55 pm

      EC, there are times I see 75 to 100 of these American White Pelicans wheeling in the sky. It is an awesome sight!

  2. Joan Carey June 16, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    I usually always learn something from your posts as they contain information & habits of your birds but this one really got me! First off, I apologize for being so naïve but I thought pelicans were shore & ocean birds, I truly never knew they lived in other regions with fresh water access. Mia thank you for always showing stunning photos but also enlightening us with descriptions & facts on your lovely subjects.

    • Mia McPherson June 16, 2016 at 4:49 pm

      Joan, during the winter American White Pelicans can be found in coastal areas along the gulf coast, the Atlantic in southern states, the Pacific along the California coast all the way down the coasts of Mexico too. Brown Pelicans are rarely found inland but the American White Pelican breeds in high numbers here in Utah, about 20% of their population breeds on Gunnison Island in the Great Salt Lake. They fly long distances to the freshwater areas around the lake to catch fish to consume and feed their young.

  3. Patty Chadwick June 16, 2016 at 8:12 am

    I miss pelicans, both the divers and the scoopers…also miss super fresh fish, bought right at the dock as soon as the boats come in…

    • Patty Chadwick June 16, 2016 at 4:22 pm

      The Great Salt Lake is super salty water…not fresh water….

      • Patty Chadwick June 16, 2016 at 4:25 pm

        Evil iPad took off on me…I wanted t,o know whether any fish was able to exist in water that salty….???

        • Mia McPherson June 16, 2016 at 4:32 pm

          Patty, you are correct, the Great Salt Lake is too saline for fish to live in although a few do get into the lake… they don’t last long. Only Brine flies, Brine Shrimp and plenty of algae live in the Great Salt Lake.

  4. Bob McPherson June 16, 2016 at 7:13 am

    Beautiful photo, Mia.

Comments are closed.