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Far afield, white pelican graces Del Norte

An American white pelican preens at the harbor on Monday.  Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
An American white pelican preens at the harbor on Monday. Del Norte Triplicate / Bryant Anderson
 An American white pelican spotted at Beachfront Park on Monday had many locals interested in why the bird typically found farther east in the northern Great Plains and Mountain West was in Crescent City.

Alan Barron, who has been birding in Del Norte County for more than 30 years and organizes local Audubon Society bird counts, said that this particular American White Pelican has been in the area for about two months.

Barron said that lately the bird can typically be found in one of four spots: the mouth of the Smith River, the mouth of Lake Talawa, the Alexandre Family EcoDairy pond, or the Crescent City Harbor area.

“It’s usually two to three years in between sightings.  It’s pretty scarce,” Barron said.

With a 9-foot wingspan, the American white pelican is one of the largest birds in North America.

“Despite their size, the pelicans are graceful fliers, with flocks soaring high in the air and wheeling in unison,” according to the National Audubon Society.

It’s hard to tell why this bird has stuck to Del Norte County, but Barron said many birds come to the coast to avoid freezing temperatures in the Upper Klamath Basin, which is part of the Pacific Flyway.

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