Oct. 5, 2010 -- Hundreds of American White Pelicans are currently migrating through the region along the Mississippi Flyway. The first pelicans of the season began arriving last week at the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary in West Alton, Mo. (just across the Clark Bridge). Hundreds of the large aquatic birds have been spotted so far, and the numbers are growing daily. However, time is limited to see these magnificent birds since they are just passing through for a few weeks.
About the Pelicans
Measuring 60 inches in length and 107 inches in width, the American White Pelican is one of the largest birds in North America and the only white pelican. Pelicans typically stay together in groups on their feeding trips and as they raise their families. It is not uncommon to see hundreds of pelicans flocked together on sandbars and small islands along the river from Alton to Grafton. Throughout their migration, pelicans can also be found near lakes, salt bays, marshes and beaches.
American White Pelicans winter on the Gulf Coast, in California and in Mexico. During the spring and summer, they migrate to their nesting areas in the Great Plains and Great Basin. The pelicans can be seen in large numbers at the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary for a three- to five-week stretch during these seasons. In recent years, it has not been uncommon to see small numbers of flocks stick around throughout the year. Besides visiting the Riverlands, pelicans can easily be spotted on the river when driving along the Meeting of the Great Rivers National Scenic Byway from Alton to Pere Marquette, a magnificent sight to see during those fall color drives.
Don’t miss your chance to see the migrating American White Pelicans. Go to www.VisitAlton.com or call the Alton Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-800-258-6645 for the best places to view the pelicans and other migratory birds.