U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Breeding bird surveys were conducted at most American White Pelican ( Pelecanus erythrorhynchos ) colonies in North America from 1979-81 and the number of American White Pelicans was estimated at >109,000 breeding individuals in 55 colonies. Although many pelican colonies have not been surveyed since the early 1980s, we present the most current survey numbers available for North American colonies. Using available data (1998-2001) and the North American Continental Divide to delineate eastern from western metapopulations, 27 colonies and 48,240 nests in the East and 15 colonies and 18,790 nests in the West were documented, giving a total of about 134,000 breeding pelicans in North America. The nest numbers of 20 eastern and western colonies that were surveyed during 1979-81 and again in 1998-2001 were also compared to determine if pelican numbers are changing. The number of AWPE nests in those colonies has more than doubled since the 1979-81 surveys. Because current data for colonies in part of the United States and much of Canada are lacking and about 20 years have passed since more complete surveys were done, we propose that regular and coordinated North American pelican surveys should be initiated.