An American White Pelican glides over Lake Nelson in Kane County, IL


Looking forward to the return of the American White Pelicans to Illinois in a couple of months. Locally, the Dick Young Forest Preserve in Batavia is a great place to see them before they head north, usually in the month of March. But there are many places within Illinois you can enjoy them. The featured image for this post was taken last year in March at Nelson Lake at the Preserve.

Here in Kane County, the pelicans have been stopping over for around twenty years. Evidently, a couple of decades ago the white pelicans were in danger of extinction because of DDT ruining the formation of their egg shells. Since being banned, their numbers have significantly increased, and the number of White Pelicans in Illinois have rebounded.

Although they may look a little odd on land with their big bills and large webbed feet, as soon as they take flight with their wings that can span as much as nine feet, they are as graceful and beautiful as any bird that flies. Love to watch them flap and glide, flap and glide. When they are flying in a group, it’s magical to watch them as they are synchronized in their quick twists and turns, really a joy to watch. And watching them fish in groups is quite the sight as well, pretty clever those pelicans.

Here are a couple of resources for more info on the American White Pelican:

Cornell Labs 

Illinois Natural History Survey