Walt's Look Around: White Pelicans at Ross Barnet Reservoir - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Walt's Look Around: White Pelicans at Ross Barnet Reservoir

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
ROSS BARNETT RESERVOIR, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

We are checking out some visitors to Mississippi. And this group will spend all winter with us. They are as sure a sign of fall as turning leaves and cold snaps. They are the white pelicans coming back to the Barnett Reservoir near Jackson.

This particular flock has adopted a point of sand off a little island in Pelahatchie Bay near the north end of the causeway as their winter residence. Nick Winstead, ornithologist at the Museum of Natural Science in Jackson says they like to hang out in groups.

"Well, they are gregarious birds, so when you see them you usually see a large flock of them," said Winstead. "They are migratory birds. They spend the non-breading season here. Actually you can see them somewhere in the state pretty much any time of year.

And they may not come back to the Rez on the exact day every year like the fabled Swallows of Capistrano are supposed to do (and I always wondered how they kept leap year from throwing them off a day), but you can count on these fellows being here pretty much this time of the year every year.

"The bulk of them will come into the state probably around October, November and stick around through February, March," added Winstead. "That's when most of them will leave the state.

And although this pod is at the Barnett, white pelicans are all over the state if you know where to look for them.

"Mostly in areas where there are large concentrations of wetlands because they are wetland birds," added Winstead. "So in Mississippi that's the Coast. "They'll go all the way down to the Coast. Up and down the Mississippi River corridor. Throughout the Delta, catfish ponds. Almost all of our large inland reservoirs have good numbers of them. The Tenn-Tom Waterway."

And although our troop here numbers into the hundreds, Nick says up in the north part of the state, like at Sardis Lake, you can find them in the thousands.

Alligators don't bother them much. They are pretty big birds. Wingspans of about three feet. Foxes like them. But don't care for the swim to get to them. So they will be able to have a pretty relaxing winter here.

And then, as much as their arrival is a sign of the coming of fall, next year when all of a sudden one day they swoop skyward and start their lazy circle to get their bearings and then fly off, that will be a sure sign of the return of spring.

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