The Pelican Festival in Iowa City this Sunday will allow you to see as many at 10,000 of the birds that’re known for diving in the water for their dinner. Iowa City Bird Club president Karen Disbrow describes the first time she saw them.
She says she was shocked when she first saw them in 1989 in Dickinson County. Disbrow says they have a great big beak with an orange pouch, and they have white feathers with black feathers on the edge of the wings. She says the juvenile birds stay throughout the state during the summer at Coralville Lake, Lake Red Rock and other water bodies throughout the state. Disbrow says they are large 30-pound birds, but they are amazing to see in flight.
“To see them flying in the air in formation is just magical, because when they turn, they disappear,” Disbrow says, “The sunlight reflects off their white wing and they disappear, and you say ‘where did they go’, and they turn again and all of a sudden they are visible, I think its magical.” The white pelicans once nested in Iowa, but she says the use of the pesticide D-D-T wiped them out like it did other birds.
They have been found nesting in an island on the Mississippi, but she says they have not been found successfully nesting in the interior of the state, although they did build a nest in Emmett County three years ago, laid eggs and then abandoned the nest. Disbrow says they do nest in Minnesota, about five miles from the Iowa border.
Disbrow says the goal of Pelican Days is to show off the wonder of these birds. Disbrow says they hope people will learn more about migration and see the value of conservation. They’ll have lots of scopes for watching the birds and lots of pelican experts. The festival is Sunday (September 25) from 11 A.M. until 3 P.M. near Iowa City at Hawkeye Wildlife Area on Amana Road just off of Highway 965.
For more information go to:www.icbirds.org.