RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas – The Rio Grande Valley is a popular destination for winter Texans. As Richard Moore shows us, some fly all the way from Minnesota to land on a favorite Brownsville resaca.
With wings spread wide, this American White pelican soars onto a resaca in deep South Texas.
The Rio Grande Valley is a favorite destination for avian winter visitors, and dozens of American White pelicans have selected this Brownsville resaca as one of their favorite winter residences.
It’s a balmy late afternoon, and these pelicans are relaxing. Several leisurely float along tranquil water, while others tend to a little feather maintenance.
White pelicans are among the largest birds in North American with a nine-foot wingspan and weighing some 15 to 20 pounds.
They breed in large colonies as far north as central Canada, although there is a single resident breeding colony on an island in the upper Laguna Madre.
In fall, the majority of White pelicans migrate southward primarily to the coastal regions of California and along the Gulf of Mexico with some traveling as far as Guatemala.
These ancient meandering of the Rio Grande in southernmost Texas are a favorite haunt for migratory White pelicans, and thanks to silver bands some wear it is possible to discover their origins.
It takes patience and several visits to read all nine numbers on each band, but eventually this bird was identified as being banded in Minnesota in 2009 when it was too young to fly.
Another bird has also been spotted that was banded on the same Minnesota lake in 2015, while two others have come from North Dakota. Since White pelicans can live some 25 years, it is likely many of these birds have been making the approximate 2, 000 mile journey for years.
These avian winter Texans from the North Country sure do seem to savor soaking up the sun on their favorite resaca and enjoying a South Texas siesta.