Saturday, January 18, 2014

Storks? No, Pelicans!

Earlier this week I received a couple interesting reports about "storks" on the Parmer Village pond. Many people refer to the herons and egrets that are usually there as storks, so at first I assumed that's what was being seen. The only true stork in Texas, the Wood Stork, would be an outside possibility but very unlikely. And it didn't fit the description one observer gave me of the birds having a long yellow bill and a "pouch". Intriguing!

On Thursday evening (January 16), the mystery was solved. Parmer Village resident James Boroff emailed me photos of large white birds on the pond that his wife Seena Mathew had taken. James and Seena correctly identified these birds as American White Pelicans. Wow! I would never have expected pelicans to be using this small pond. I wonder what they're eating, since I doubt there are fish in there. (There are lots of fish in the nearby creek, but I don't think the pond is connected to the creek.) American White Pelicans are winter residents in Texas, mostly on the coast. But you can also find them in the Austin area during the winter, usually on much larger bodies of water. They are huge birds, with a nine-foot wingspan! My only other record of this species in our neighborhood was in April, 2008 when there was a spectacular fly-over during my monthly group walk. Here's my blog entry.

Here are Seena's Pelican photos:

American White Pelicans on Parmer Village Pond - 1

American White Pelicans on Parmer Village Pond - 2

American White Pelicans on Parmer Village Pond - 3

As many as three have been seen on the pond since Tuesday (January 14)!

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