Mississippi River Flyway Migration

Passport to the Skies

Name: Gracie
Species: Pelecanus erythrorhynchos (American White Pelican)
Date of Birth: June 3, 2008
Place of Birth: Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge, Montana
Reason for Trip: While I love wintering along the Gulf coast, the warmer spring temperatures beckon me north, where all my friends and family nest along freshwater lakes that are teeming with yummy fish, crayfish, and tadpoles.

Travel Itinerary
Date of Departure: March 17, 2014
Travel Time: 3 months
Place of Origin: Disney Wilderness Preserve, Florida
Destination: Northern Montana Prairies
Frequent Flyer Miles Earned: 3,000
Lifetime Frequent Flyer Miles: 33,000

Travel Background
Essential Travel Needs: As one of North America’s largest birds (I have a wingspan of 110 inches!), I need lots of protein to prepare for my trip. My flock works together to encircle and drive fish toward the shore where they are easier to catch so we can build up our strength for our long journey.

First Flight: At 4 months old, I followed the Mississippi River to the salty waters of the Gulf of Mexico. I spent that first winter exploring the shallow bays and estuaries of the coast. Since I don’t dive for my food like my cousin the brown pelican, my friends and I would spend hours just floating on the water, scooping up live fish to eat. I typically eat up to 3 or 4 pounds of fish a day!

Scariest Flight: Sometimes I tend to lag behind my flock and travel a little later than usual, like in spring 2010. That year, I saw a lot of commotion along the shores of the Gulf and many birds, fish, sea turtles and dolphins were covered in black oil, some even died. I’m a bit clumsy on land, so it was a good thing that I was leaving when all the trouble started.

Click below to hear my song!  




Stay Updated

Learn about the places you love and find out how you can help by signing up for Nature eNews.

I'm already on the list Read our privacy policy

Thank you for joining our online community!

We'll be in touch soon with more Nature Conservancy news, updates, and exciting stories.