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Thursday, March 03, 2016

Great White Pelican at Ding Darling NWR, 1st N.A. Record, or Escapee?

Great White Pelican mania continues at J.N. Ding Darling NWR, Sanibel FL. First North American record or escapee? Here's the latest. No (AZA) zoos in this country are missing any Great White Pelicans. Great White Pelican authority Sheila Murphy, of the American Zoological and Aquarium Society and Senior Bird Keeper at the San Diego Zoo did a census last week of Great White Pelicans at all 10 AZA facilities who house this species and determined no Great White Pelicans were missing. Zoos band and may microchip their pelicans and this female Great White Pelican has no bands on her legs. So the speculation mounts as to where she came from. Great White Pelicans breed in Africa, Asia and Europe. She was last seen at Ding on Tuesday, when she flew off (see my photo of her taking flight) and joined a small group of White Pelicans headed east. Birders are trying to relocate her. The Florida Ornithological Society Records Committee is reviewing this report and will meet in August to discuss it. They will be looking at the zoo records and other places that may have kept these birds in captivity. If no sources they research are missing any Great White Pelicans then maybe she will go down in history as a record of the first wild Great White Pelican who made it to North America. How lucky for us she showed up at Ding Darling NWR. This story is to be continued.

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