What Have White Pelicans and Canadians in Common ?

December 5, 2008

What Have White Pelicans and Canadians in Common ?

Give up ? Well they both are pretty smart birds. All of the Pelicans and many of our Canadian friends migrate each winter to Lake Chapala.

The pelicans prefer the South Shore and the Canadians prefer the North shore.

To celebrate the arrival of Lake Chapala’s winter population of white pelicans, communities situated on or near the Michoacan shoreline host an annual “Festival Cultural del Pelicano Borregon”.


The festival encompasses a variety of cultural events each year. The  municipalities of Cojumatlan de Regules, Venustiano Carranza, Pajacuran, Briseñas and Vista Hermosa all contribute.

Of course there are pelicans and then there are pelicans.  The ones who favor Lake Chapala  are the American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) which is a large web-footed water bird distinguished by its rough white plumage, black wing tips and a long orange bill with a pouch. At maturity it weighs around 15 pounds, measuring 50 to 70 inches in length with a 110-inch wingspan.
They spend their summers  ranging from the Canadian prairie to southern California and the Texas Gulf Coast and winter months in more temperate zones between the southern United States and Guatemala.

Thousands of these “snow birds” human and avian wing their way to Lake Chapala in November, remaining until April to bask in its friendly climate.

The pelicans favor the South shore around the towns of Petatan and La Palma to take advantage of the plentiful feed of scraps generated by an active fish mongering industry.

The human snow birds from Canada and the Northern USA prefer the South shores and tend to hang out in or near the towns of Ajijic, San Antonio Tlayacapa and Chapala being attracted to the Pacific coast fish and other delicacies in abundance at the wonderful restaurants on the South shore and all the cultural activities for visitors and full time residents alike.

  • Jim DeWitt

    Hey Sid! Jim DeWitt here – thoroughly enjoy this “news from home”.

    When I lived in Ohio, there was a town called Hinkley that had a yearly Buzzard Festival because the buzzards came back ON THE SAME DAY every year… much like Capistrano. Are the pelicans like that?

    Have an awesome holiday… Jim DeWitt

  • Sid

    Hi Jim, Thanks for your nice words. Yes, the Pelicans come every year. Just another excuse for a celebration. We have lots to celebrate since we live in one of the best places to live on the planet. Please give my best to your other half.

    Siempre tu amigo, Sid

  • http://www.quirkykitschgirl.com JA Huber

    Hello! Thanks for including my video in your post. The white pelicans winter in my part of the world (Port Charlotte, Florida) and I wasn’t sure what to expect when a friend I was visiting took me to Lake Chapala to see them. I couldn’t believe how many there were! The pelican pod was huge and it was such a pleasure watching them fly in and feast.

    Behind the pelican feast was a building where women were filleting tilapia fish. I had planned to take a look and talk to the women (in my broken Spanish) but my phone rang and got distracted. I definitely recommend a visit to Petatan and arrive between 2 and 2:30 to see the grand birds arrive.


  • http://www.chapalaclub.com Sid Grosvenor

    Hi JA,

    I aprreciate your nice comments. I’ve not seen the pelicans in person, but look forward to it.

    Thanks for taking the time to post your video on You Tube. I’m always on the lookout for good videos that show our wonderful life here.

    Hope you come back to see us. If I can ever be of help please let me know. Siempre tu amigo, Sid

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