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White Pelican Featured on Peninsula’s 2008 LIKE TO HIKE Pin

The holidays are long past, but if extra pounds are still weighing you down join the ranks of Peninsula State Park’s LIKE TO HIKERs. Complete five "silent sport" activities in the park this year and be eligible to purchase a custom white pelican pin at discount for $3. Park patrons can also purchase pelican pins at full price for $6. Eligible silent sports include hiking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, biking and kayaking. In addition to those who purchase their pins, Peninsula gives about 100 pins away to scouts and youth who pull garlic mustard, as well as nature program volunteers.

The white pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynochos) had been absent from Wisconsin for about 100 years. In 1995, biologists counted 185 white pelican nests on two islands near the city of Green Bay. This represented a shift east from an established breeding range in the prairie pothole region of the western United States. Peninsula’s white pelicans winter in the Gulf States.

In flight, white pelicans have a 9-foot wingspan with distinctive black-tipped wings. Their heads are tucked back and orange bills protrude forward. Breeding pelicans sport nuptial tubercles, fleshy plates on the upper part of their bills that are typically shed before eggs hatch. These fade to gray by the end of summer. Pelicans may live up to thirty years.

Pelicans nest in colonies on open, isolated islands. Eggs (usually two) are kept warm by pelican feet. This bird doesn’t have a "brood patch" on its belly. When chicks are young, parent pelicans usually forage for food near the nesting colony. Pelicans spotted near Peninsula may be non-breeding birds hunting for fish along the park’s shallow coast.

To find out more about white pelicans and Peninsula’s LIKE TO HIKE program call Park Headquarters at 920.868.3258.