An unusual visitor to Jacobson Park

Residents have a great opportunity to see something out of the ordinary at one of Lexington’s city parks. An American white pelican, nicknamed “Pelly” by those who have sighted it in recent months, has lived in Jacobson Park since around October 2021.

“I think it’s a really good opportunity for people to go to a local park and see something that you wouldn’t normally see in Kentucky,” said Parks & Parks Naturalist Anna Wiker. Break.

According to Wiker, American white pelicans are commonly associated with the coastal and western United States. These types of birds regularly migrate across the Great Plains from the coast. While no one knows exactly how Pelly ended up at Jacobson Park, an injury to his right wing during the migration likely sent him off course. The Pelican has since recovered from its injury but remains a fixture at Jacobson Park.

Pelly is easy to spot in the park. Whether hanging near the water’s edge or wading through the water in search of food, the American white pelican is far larger than any other bird in Jacobson Park. This type of animal can have a total length of 4 to 6 feet and a wingspan of up to 8 or 9 feet with a huge orange beak.

In terms of diet, American white pelicans feed on “almost anything they can find in the water,” according to Wiker.

“Generally like crayfish, frogs, fish, that sort of thing,” Wiker said. “But it’s really fish that makes up the majority of their diet. Usually they’ll opt for the panfish; fish that we commercially consider not particularly valuable or large enough to appeal to most anglers. So normally they go after the bluegill sunfish. It’s not normal to see a giant fish eat it. Usually they will try to eat something half their bill.

While American white pelicans usually stay in groups, Pelly remained the only one of her kind at Jacobson Park. In the meantime, Pelly spent time with double-crested cormorants at Jacobson Park.

“He seems to be aware that he’s a different species, but I’ve definitely seen him sunning, fishing and hanging out with the cormorants there.”

A few reminders for people planning to visit Pelly or one of our local parks in the future:

  • Do not feed any wild animals.
  • Do not hunt wildlife as this may burn unnecessary calories.
  • Let’s make sure we take care of the wildlife in our parks. It is common for waterfowl, including pelicans, ducks, cormorants, geese, etc. become tangled in fishing line and cause lacerations that can lead to death.
  • Be responsible for cleaning up garbage and disposing of it in appropriate places.

About Harold Fergus

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