The White Pelican was, at one time, on Alberta’s Endangered Species List. Today, the outlook for their survival is positive. Find out how they made a comeback, what their nesting habits are and more.


The oldest colony of White Pelicans in Alberta was documented in 1789. It is on an island in Mountain Rapids in the Slave Lake. It is the most northerly pelican colony in the world and the only colony in Alberta that is found on a river. Colonies range from a few birds to several hundred. It often contains juveniles and adults that do not breed. Some Alberta pelicans gather in groups and fly as far as fifty miles to a preferred feeding ground.

White Pelicans leave Alberta in late September and migrate to the Florida and the Gulf of Mexico for the winter.

White Pelican colonies are found in the boreal forests, aspen parklands and prairie lakes of Alberta. If one area becomes unsuitable, they will abandon it for a more favorable site. Over the years, nesting grounds become barren. Continued trampling and excrement kill all vegetation.

White Pelicans live between 12 and 14 years in the wild. They do not reach maturity until age three, when they begin to breed.

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