Pelicans in Ohio … Not in a Zoo

American White Pelican - photo from

I  did not see this myself, but today a report from Kenn Kaufman on the Ohio-birds mailing list, a service of the Ohio Ornithological Society, was as follows:

This afternoon (Wednesday Sept. 14) I spotted an American White Pelican circling high above the parking lot of the Black Swamp Bird Observatory, just north of Rt. 2 at the entrance to Magee Marsh Wildlife Area in Ottawa County, northwest Ohio. Kimberly Kaufman, Mark Shieldcastle, and I watched as the bird circled and drifted off to the east, paralleling the lake shore. This was at about 1:30. Birders coming in for the Midwest Birding Symposium (Sept. 15-18, headquartered at Lakeside, about 25 miles east of BSBO) should keep this species in mind, and take a second look at any high-soaring, white-and-black bird: i.e., don’t assume that they’re all gulls. American White Pelican is now regular in very small numbers in northwest Ohio during the warmer months, but it’s still exciting to see one.

Kenn KaufmanEditor, Kaufman Field Guides series

The only place I have ever seen a pelican outside of a zoo was on a lake in Yellowstone Park many years ago.  How thrilling it would be to see this bird in my own neighborhood.  I’ll be looking up for sure.  Even though they are only seen now in Northwestern Ohio it is only a matter of time before they move east.  Or maybe I’ll get lucky on a trip to Northwestern Ohio! 

Kenn Kaufman is the author of the Kaufman Field Guides to North American Birds, Butterflies, Mammals, and Insects.  My favorite Kenn Kaufman book is Kingbird Highway: The Biggest Year in the Life of an Extreme Birder.  In 1973, at age 19,  he set out across the USA to try and set a record for most species seen in one year, hitchhiking and working odd jobs as he went.  It is a very entertaining book, both for the birds he saw and the characters he encountered.    Find Kenn Kaufman at

You can read more about American White Pelicans at

Keep looking up! 

American White Penguin in flight - photo from


About SallyK

A little blog about the ordinary and not so ordinary things our family does, places we travel, things we see. Like travel, cooking, family stories, book reviews, music? You will find it all here - comments welcome!
This entry was posted in Birdwatching, Books, Nature, Ohio and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Pelicans in Ohio … Not in a Zoo

  1. Reggie says:

    Ohh – pelicans! Sally, I hope you get a chance to see them in the wild, or flying over your home! Wow… keep that camera ready. 🙂

  2. Larry says:

    I love sitting on my fishing boat along the coast and watching flights of pelicans soar just above the breakers along the coastline. They are true masters of flight and are studied to learn more about low-altitude aviation.

    Pelicans, and seabirds in general, are great indicators of large pods of bait and prey fish being in an area. Go where the birds are gathering and you’ll find fish. But, casting into the melee will sometimes snag you a bird. Removing a gull (I had a double-bagger once) from your line isn’t too difficult because of their size but, freeing a full-grown brown pelican with it’s powerful beak and huge wing span is another story. It’s always nice to have a big beach towel to wrap the bird in along with an extra pair of arms and hands to assist.

  3. Kristen Rice says:

    I believe I saw 3 this morning across the way from Punderson State Park in Newbury, Ohio.
    LOVE THEM!! Second time I have seen them in Silver Lake on 2 years! Amazing!

  4. kyawthiha says:

    This bird is very beautifull.

  5. Bill Brown says:

    Saw one at Grand Lake St Marys (Ohio), today

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