American White Pelicans in Flight at Sally Jones Lake

Today I want to share some photos of American White Pelicans in flight over Sally Jones Lake in Oklahoma’s Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge. For the past couple of days, my blog posts have focused on these pelicans as they swam along the shores of this tranquil lake (An American White Pelican in Action and American White Pelican’s Unexpected Pastime ). But today’s post features them taking to the skies with their huge wingspans, capturing their grace and beauty aloft.

American White Pelican Soars
American White Pelican Soars

American White Pelicans are one of the largest birds found in North America. With wingspans reaching nearly nine feet from tip to tip, they are second in size only to California condors. Their broad wings appear almost prehistoric when outstretched to their full impressive width.

American White Pelican in Flight
American White Pelican in Flight

I was able to capture these pelicans as they took off from the water, spreading their oversized wings as they lifted their large bodies onto the air. They usually fly in orderly lines or V-shaped formations, flapping their wings but also gliding for long stretches once airborne. On windy days, they are able to soar high on warm updrafts with barely a flap of their wings.

Flying Pelicans Over the Lake
3 Flying Pelicans Over the Lake

At one point, I picked out a single pelican to follow with my camera as it left the lake, watching it ride the wind in solitude. I also captured an intimate portrait of a small group of three pelicans flying just over the water in tight formation as they came in to land on the lake.

Lone American White Pelican in Flight
Lone American White Pelican in Flight

What strikes me most about these pelicans in flight is their synchronization and coordination. Each bird seems to take cues from the one flying ahead of it about when to flap and when to coast on a glide. The result is hypnotic to watch from my vantage point near the lake shore below. They form a long graceful line of white and black feathers riding the air currents in loops high above me.

Capturing these moments reminded me of the grandeur of nature and the captivating beauty of these incredible creatures. Whether they are gracefully coasting above the lake or engaging in synchronized flight, American White Pelicans never cease to amaze.

Stay tuned for more glimpses into the fascinating world of wildlife, and until next time, may your adventures in nature be as uplifting as the flight of these magnificent Pelicans!

Image Information: (Last Image)

  • Date: 11/28/23
  • Time: 11:59 AM
  • Camera: Canon EOS R5
  • Lens: RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM
  • ISO: 400
  • Aperture: 8
  • Shutter: 1/2000
  • Exp. Comp.: -0.3
  • Lens (mm): 500
  • Program Mode: Manual