As the tree lined shore begins showing off its fall colors of vibrant red, sun-kissed yellow, and burnt sienna and the autumn sun appears to have sprinkled shimmering pieces of crystal on the blue water of the lake, the pelicans return to delight all who flock to the lake to witness.
During the fall migration, the American White Pelicans find their way to Grand Lake o’the Cherokees. The lake, with its 1300 miles of shoreline, is located in the northeast corner of Oklahoma. During the summer months, the lake is filled with sail boats, ski boats, bass boats and lake cruisers. Fishermen enjoy catching bass, crappie and catfish. But sometime between September to November, the brilliant white pelicans return to the shores of this lake by the hundreds.
One of the largest birds, they weigh anywhere from ten to thirty pounds and are quite majestic with their wingspan of eight to nine feet. The brilliant white plumage is contrasted by their large orange-red bills. They might look funny waddling on land, but they appear serene gliding through the water and truly graceful in flight after running across the water and beating their wings on takeoff.
Fall is a great time to catch sight of these magnificent birds in the shallow areas of the lake as they come to rest during their migration. Since they return each year, they must agree that it is a “grand” lake for a stop.
One can call the GRDA Ecosystem and Education Center on the lake at (918) 782-4726 before planning a trip to verify that the pelicans have arrived. While at the lake, the center is a great place to gain more information about the lake’s history and ecosystems management.