WHITE PELICAN FROM OREGON VISITS LAGUNA SAN IGNACIO
In February 2019 and again in 2020, LSIESP researchers encountered large groups of 100+ White Pelicans in the protected waters and mangrove estuaries south of Laguna San Ignacio. Photographs of these birds revealed one pelican with identification “bands” (tags) on its legs.
United States Geological Survey Bird Banding Laboratory (USGS-BBL) have been banding migratory birds in North American for 100-years to document a bird’s origin, migration destinations, what they eat and how much habitat they need to feed and reproduce. This information helps identify priority areas for conservation of the species.
USGS-BBL researchers identified the leg “bands” on this pelican in their database. The pelican was “banded” (tagged) in 2014 in Harney County, Oregon when it was too young to fly. It was then spotted in Baja California in 2016 migrating with other White Pelicans, and now at approximately 6-years old it was seen again in 2020 in Laguna San Ignacio.
The American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) is frequently seen during the winter in Laguna San Ignacio, and in other locations in Baja California, Mexico. These large and distinctive birds migrate from their summer breeding range in Central Canada and the Northern United States to their winter range in coastal areas of Baja California, mainland Mexico, and the the Northern Gulf of Mexico.
White Pelicans are usually seen soaring in flocks over the lagoon, but they prefer to gather in the protected waters of the mangrove estuaries of El Cardon, and the Esteros Tiburon and Pitaya south of the main portion of Laguna San Ignacio. Unlike the Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis), White Pelicans do not dive for fish, but prefer to dip their bills into the water while swimming to capture small fish and “shrimp-like” invertebrates for food.
Once again, photographic identification has documented a species that migrates great distances each winter to Laguna San Ignacio, Baja California Sur, Mexico.
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