Bird lovers rejoice – pelicans and eagles are making their annual trip back to Minnesota thanks to warming weather and melting ice.
Sightings of white pelicans, once driven to near extinction and absent from Minnesota for a 90-year stretch, are more of a rarity in Minnesota. But due to their 9-foot wingspans and orange bills, they are easier to spot.
“Pelicans often fly in evenly spaced lines or V formations,” said Lisa Gelvin-Innvaer, DNR nongame wildlife specialist, in a news release. “Unlike swans or geese which fly with necks outstretched, pelicans fly with their necks doubled back against their shoulders. They often set up a rhythmic pattern of wing beats that ripple from the lead bird back to the end.”
Despite Western Minnesota hosting 22 percent of the global population of this species of pelican, they remain one of Minnesota's Species in Greatest Conservation Need, sharing the list with grey wolves, cerulean warblers and more.
As for the nation's beloved mascot, bald eagles will be seen in large numbers over the next few weeks.
“Ice is breaking up along the rivers, so it’s definitely time for folks to keep their eyes out,” said Gelvin-Innvaer. “It all depends on the weather. It’s typical to see eagles coming through our area in mid-to-late March, as waters begin to open up and snow melts. This year, some eagles began migrating through in February.”
The biggest concentrations of eagle populations tend to be along the Minnesota River corridor, the north shore of Lake Superior and around Lake Pepin in southeastern Minnesota.
The other big draw for the DNR is the ever-popular live eagle cam, which features an eagle's nest – which is currently sporting three eaglets.