Pelicans of Wisconsin (1 Species to Know)

Pelicans are very unique birds that are typically found around the water. They are of cultural significance in many parts of the United States and are even represented in professional sports with the NBA’s New Orleans pelicans.

In the United States there are two different species of pelicans, but in Wisconsin, only one species can be found on an annual basis. Here is everything you need to know about that species.

American White Pelican

American White Pelican

American White Pelicans are large birds with long bills ranging from pink, to yellow, to orange in color. They have a white body with black wing tips and are most well-known for their throat pouch used to catch and hold fish. American White Pelicans often fly together in large groups and create v-shaped formations similar to Canada Geese.


American White Pelicans winter along the southern ocean coasts of the United States as well as most of Mexico. In Spring they move north into the Central and Western United States as well as some parts of Southern Canada.

Diet and Foraging Habits

American White Pelicans primarily feed on fish. However, they are incredibly opportunistic and are known to try and eat almost anything that will fit in their mouth including invertebrates, amphibians, and even medium sized birds and mammals.

Where to Find This Bird

American White Pelicans can be found in shallow waters such as ponds and marshes where they breed during the summer months. This species can often be seen foraging and traveling in large groups meaning that if they are around they are quite noticeable.

In Wisconsin, there are many different places to find American White Pelicans including Horicon Marsh, along the Mississippi River, and the Green Bay area. In fact, some American White Pelicans typically stay in Green Bay year round.


Pelicans are fascinating and unique birds that aren’t quite like other species. Knowing the habits, range, and key identification features of each of these species can be incredibly useful in knowing what to look for in the field.

If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like and a comment. Also be sure to check out the Badgerland Birding Youtube Channel.

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