Look for Nesting Pelicans
On Both Coasts
Brown pelicans are salt water birds, apt to be seen anytime, anywhere
along the coast. It's uncommon to find a brown pelican in fresh water.
The major nesting period is in early spring, although
they may nest year-round in the Keys.
Brown pelicans nest on many of the spoil islands in the Indian
River in Central Florida, but none is more heavily used than Pelican
Island NWR, the first NWR in the entire nation.
in 1903, the tiny 3.5-acre island was protected by
executive order of President Theodore Roosevelt in order to stop the
"sport" of randomly shooting and killing birds on the nest.
The refuge has since grown to encompass thousands of acres, for thousands
of nesting brown pelicans as well as egrets, cormorants, ibis and frigate
The original Pelican Island can be viewed with a powerful scope from the town of
Sebastian, where a rental boat can also be arranged. The islands
are closed to visitors, but the birds can still be viewed from close
south, on both coasts, brown pelicans are apt to be seen nesting
in the branches of coastal mangroves anywhere the trees
are thick, and people and predators are scarce.
That would include
many small islets in the Florida Keys, Biscayne
National Park near Homestead, Ten
Thousand Islands NWR on the northeast fringe of Everglades
National Park, Florida
Bay and the Flamingo area in Everglades National Park,
Darling NWR on Sanibel Island, Cayo Costa
State Park across from Boca Grande, and almost any other
concentration of thick mangroves in the area.
Island in Mobile Bay, AL, is considered to have perhaps the
largest brown pelican colony in the whole United States. As many as
2,500 different pairs nest there in a single season. It can be visited
only by boat.
Pelican Homepage Learn the natural history of this remarkable bird.
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