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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Pelicans take a breather at area lakes during annual migration

A Canada goose chases a flock of pelicans on Hauser Lake on Wednesday, May 1, 2019. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

Recently spotted at Hauser Lake, the American white pelican is just passing through. With a 9-foot wingspan, this pelican is one of the largest birds in North America, according to Audubon Society. Lindell Haggin, Spokane Audubon Society member, said they are impressive birds.

“They’re large, they’re unusual in their behavior,” said Haggin, a member of the Spokane Audubon Society since 1970.

Haggin said the best description of the bird might be found in this iteration of a limerick “A Wonderful Bird is the Pelican” by Dixon Lanier Merritt: “A funny old bird is a pelican / His beak can hold more than his belican / Food for a week / He can hold in his beak, / But I don’t know how the helican.”

Like the poem implies, Haggin emphasized a pelican is a strange bird.

“They’ve got this pouch,” Haggin said. “During the breeding season, they have this knob on top of their bill, so they’ve got this extra little protuberance there.”

Still, Haggin stressed how impressive the bird is to see in flight.

“Several times I’ve been out in Lincoln County and it’s very arid and dry,” Haggin said. “You look up and you see some birds flying and you look and there are some pelicans flying over in this line, headed toward some unknown destination. They’re remarkable birds.”

Haggin said part of her fascination with birds is their personalities.

“I continue to learn something new, it gets me outside into nature, and they’re really pretty remarkable,” Haggin said, mentioning that at the moment she was watching hummingbirds fighting over the sugar water she put out for them. “You have something to look forward to all of the time, wherever you go, there are some birds.”

Haggin said pelicans, possibly because of their enormous size, are not really concerned about anyone else.

“They just go about their business of finding food, nesting and finding a place to rest,” Haggin said.