Pelican Pond

For approximately one week in early April, Maple Lake in the Cook County Forest Preserve turned into Pelican Pond. Each day there were well over seventy American White Pelicans swimming, flying and foraging at the lake. For this brief week in April these white feathered birds were like angels floating on a small blue heaven in southern Cook County.

Like a knight to its king, an American white pelican spreads its wings outward and curtsies to another unimpressed pelican. The water bird rises out of the lake in an effort to gain the attention of its aloof companion.

People often think of the pelicans only as seacoast birds but they are typically only thinking about Brown Pelicans. American White Pelicans differ from their coastal cousins in several ways; color, habitat and hunting method. White Pelicans are inland birds and can be commonly observed throughout the Midwest during their migration. They migrate as far north as Alberta Canada which is their primary breeding ground.

The American White Pelicans cooperatively search for fish in shallow lakes and marshes. They coordinate their swimming to herd fish toward shallow water. Once the fish are driven together, pelicans use their large bill to easily scooped up their prey from the water. It is quite a sight to see pelicans bill-dipping for their dinner.

Pelicans are also one of the largest North American birds with a 9-foot wingspan. Though their size can make a pelican’s landing into water can look clumsy, these birds are spectacular fliers. They ascend into the sky wheeling and circling in unison until they reach incredible heights. Their spiral flight patterns are an amazing sight to see.

My time with the pelicans ended by watching several squadrons take flight. In an unforgettable coordinated display, these angels soared into the blue heavens changing Pelican Pond back to Maple Lake.

Please feel free to view my photographs of the American White Pelicans and other migratory birds at my website Mike Truchon Photography.

As it is about to crash land into a swimming flock of pelican, a flying pelican tries to change course before it lands. One wading bird, with its beak wide open, screams warning to the misadventurous landing pelican.


As it pushes off from the water with its webbed feet, a pelican takes flight.


Three pelicans feed underwater with their rear ends up in the air. They are aloof to another though he provides sentinel duty from behind.


An american white pelican with a bad hairdo swims a deep blue lake.


An angelic pelican spreads its wings across blue water. As the american white pelican rises out of the lake it admires the golden brown forest of the morning.


Three american White pelicans swin together in a blue lake. One shows its boredom by with an oversized yawn of boredom.


Three pelicans, wings spread, fly into a puffy white cloud in a blue sky.