First Documented Nesting of American White Pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) in Ohio, USA


  • Bruce N. Buckingham
  • Laura J. Kearns Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife



The discovery and documentation of a new breeding species in a defined area, such as a state, is a crucial first step in understanding the basic natural history of a species and its consequent needs for management and conservation. The American White Pelican has gradually expanded its breeding range from the prairies of North America into the Great Lakes region. While conducting a census on Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus) at least 4 nests of pelicans with either eggs or young were found. Further census showed a minimum of 12 almost fledged young. This report documents the first confirmed nesting of the American White Pelican in Ohio. This first nesting was observed in May 2023 on Turning Point Island, an artificial island in Sandusky Bay, Erie County, Ohio, in the western basin of Lake Erie. Continued nesting of pelicans in Ohio is expected in future years at this location and other suitable sites in the area. This species is likely to need future monitoring and management.