The Big American White Pelican

BY: DAVID ZIVIC

There is only one American White Pelican in this Southern Baja area, and it is in Todos Santos. Specifically the La Poza Lagoon, or what is called an Estero here in Mexico. There is always one and only one every year now for 20 years that I can remember. These majestic birds are considered one of the largest birds in all of North America rivaling the California Condor.

What makes this one particular is that I have noticed it, or one just like it, for 20 years. They are migratory birds and return in the summer to as far away as Canada. The southern extremity shows others as far south as central and South America, so the range can be thousands of miles every year.

They are not albino, and with their wings extended, they show black tips on their feathers. Their habit is to flock or colonizes in groups, but this one, and in this location, is just one solo fine feathered bird every year.

Unlike the more common brown Pelican, these birds only hang out in lakes or in an estuary, not in the ocean. In the wild, they have a life expectancy of 34 years, so that leads me to believe it is the same bird every year that returns.

They also don’t dive after fish like the brown ones, but instead, consume their 4 pounds of fish per day by swimming in the shallows and grab the small fish like ducks would do. Although I know there is a Bobcat in this area and often catches other birds from the shore. Luckily so far this bird has eluded the feline but maybe fended it off with its powerful large bill, as it is known to do.

Unfortunately, "Whitey” is camera shy and getting a great shot never happened.

If you drive over to the La Poza Hotel in Todos Santos you can find the directions by just following the series of convenient signs. They point the way and after parking, walk to the left of the hotel you follow the path to the beach right by the lagoon. Conveniently you can have lunch from the comfortable upper patio on top of the hotel.