Pelicans can be seen visiting St. Louis area

Pelicans can be seen visiting St. Louis area

To the editor:

I could hardly believe my eyes, flying overhead they looked like pelicans, here in the Midwest? Yes, white pelicans migrate through Illinois and Missouri, stopping on waterways to rest and eat before flying farther north to breed.

American white pelicans pass through the bi-state area between March and June after leaving their winter homes along the southern U.S. coastal states for the upper Midwest, western states and Canada.

The Old Chain of Rocks Bridge and Chouteau Island are part of the Confluence Greenway, a developing 200 square mile park and trail system being developed from St. Louis and the East St. Louis riverfronts to St. Charles and Grafton, Ill. The Confluence Greenway is a great place for bird watching and to observe nature.

To identify a group of pelicans look for their blinding white color, offset by black wing tips and bright orange feet, eyes and bill. In flight they hold their heads back on their shoulders and tuck their bills in tightly.

A great place to spot pelicans along the Confluence Greenway is at Riverlands Environmental Demonstration Area, West Alton, across from the Melvin Price Locks and Dam or along the Great River Road between Alton and Grafton, Ill.

Look for them in the river, they prefer shallow water where they feed on schooling fish or in large flocks soaring and catching the upward drafts along the river bluffs and palisades. Pelicans return to this area in the fall, with October being the best month to see them, on their migration south.

Kathi Weilbacher

St. Louis