They flock to White Rock, white wisps of poetry gliding up and floating down the current, a calming and peaceful signal of a new season. Chris Jackson is a hobbyist and creator of the website DFW Urban Wildlife. He’s been observing, photographing and writing articles about our neighborhood’s wildlife, including pelicans, for the last 15 years. “White Rock Lake is one of my favorite places for pursuing this hobby,” he says.

What do you know about the pelicans’ migrating pattern?

American white pelicans spend the summer in the interior of North America — Colorado, Wyoming, Canada — nesting in large colonies. They winter along the Gulf Coast and into Mexico. In the spring, they migrate north to their breeding grounds. In the fall, they head back south. That is when most people in DFW notice them. Starting in September and October, it is common to observe large flocks moving through the area. They fly in loose “V” formations. Occasionally they break formation and begin to circle around each other in big, undulating organic groups. After a while they will form up again and continue on their way.

Why does this area appeal to them?

There are many large and relatively shallow ponds, lakes and reservoirs that are well suited to the way American white pelicans hunt for fish.


What time of year do they usually spend here?

They will be here from October through March. 


What time of day is the best time to watch them?

They are active and observable all day long. 


Where is the best place to watch them?

Sunset Bay on White Rock Lake is one of the best places in the Metroplex to see them. They stay close to shore and are relatively tolerant of observation there. 


Do they come back to the same place every year?

It’s not uncommon for birds to be habitual in their behaviors, but I’m not sure how dedicated American white pelicans are to their wintering grounds. I would not be surprised to learn that the same birds come back to the same places year after year.  

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