By: Marlene Affeld
Spring is in the air and the migratory birds are returning. I especially love Montana this time of the year.
I have always associated pelicans with the ocean and never considered them an inland bird. I was amazed to discover that thousands of pelicans spend their breeding season in Montana. American White Pelicans in Montana are long-distance migratory birds that spend the winter in warmer weather, traveling as far south as Central America and faithfully returning to their natal habitat every spring.
White Pelicans sport an enormous bill with a flapping (disensible gular) pouch; they waddle on broad (totipalmate) webbed feet, yet fly with grace and precision. In flight, the pelicans fly, rather comically, with their heads withdrawn. White Pelicans are a social bird that normally travel in a flock and freely shares its feeding ground with cormorants and seagulls.