White Pelicans outside my office window

The window my office looks south towards Soldier Field and I confess that when something is flying by, it often catches my eye no matter what is going on in the office.  Yesterday, around lunchtime, while Peggy MacNamara, Barbara Becker and I were meeting to discuss the order of Peggy’s paintings for her nearly finished Migration book, I turned my gaze out the window of my office to look across Soldier Field and spotted line of large birds flying towards the museum from out over stadium.  The first thought when you see large birds in a line like this over is Canada Geese, but something seemed different, Sandhill Crane flashed through my mind.  I interrupted the meeting by saying something like ”what are those?”  Then, several of the ten birds flapped and it became apparent the birds had white wings and black wings.  “White Pelicans!" Disrupting the meeting, I ran down hall to alert folks in the Bird Division.  The Bird Division main office windows were too obstructed to see them there and when we got back to the Chairman’s office, Peggy, Barb, and Mary Johnson said they had just passed out of view over the top of the museum.  Within the last several weeks, Mary Hennen had told me she had seen several pelicans in the Calumet area while she was down banding Peregrine falcon chicks.  These avian flying fortresses are becoming more common across the Midwest, but this is a rare sighting in the Chicago area, especially this time of year when one might expect most pelicans would be nesting.  We don’t know where these particular birds came from or where they were going, but it always pays to take an occasional peek out the window. 

Tom Gnoske prepared a salvaged White Pelican from Minnesota during Members’ nights at the end of May.  Below is a photo John McCarter took of Tom while he was working. The second photo, I took before Tom started prepping the bird.  The photo shows a species of louse (Piagetiella peralis) that lives in the pouches of these huge birds.