American White Pelicans making a winter home in Middle Tennessee


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Here in Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky, there is a lot of beauty to be seen on our area lakes, and in recent years, American White Pelicans have increased their presence in our region during the fall and winter months during the migration south.

“The American White Pelican, it breeds up in the northern Great Plains and will come down here during the winter,” explained David Hanni, Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency Bird Conservation Coordinator. “And it’s just been recently that they’ve started to increase their numbers. So now you can basically see them throughout the state during the winter. So, their population has been increasing. And so now we’re starting to see more down here around Old Hickory, Lake Barkley, Kentucky Lake. Those are all common places that you can see them, and you usually see them in large numbers, groups of maybe a hundred birds or more.”

Courtesy of Graham Gerdeman

So why have their numbers increased?

“They’ve been doing a really great job of breeding up in the northern Great Plains,” Hanni pointed out. “And there’s a lot of opportunities and wetlands and suitable nesting locations up there that they’ve just been doing really well, and their populations are increasing. I think that’s why we’re starting to see the increased numbers during the winter in our area.”

And you’ll know it when you see them!

Courtesy of Graham Gerdeman

“It’s a big beautiful bird with a huge wingspan, so they’re kind of hard to miss when they’re coming in.”

Right now they are a beautiful sight to see, but experts warn that if their populations increase too much, their species could create a potential conflict in the future.

To learn more about birds and other wildlife in Tennessee, a great source of information is the TN Watchable Wildlife Site. You can also check out this excellent Nashville Birder YouTube channel by Graham Gerdeman.

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