Pelicans in Indiana


More than 400 hundred waterfowl are on Cecil Harden Lake in Parke County.

Doesn’t really sound like anything new, except you might assume you’d only see these particular birds along the ocean.

We’re not talking about ducks or geese here.

We’re talking about pelicans.

I’ve lived my entire life in Indiana and have never seen a pelican here.    

So when I first heard about it, I couldn’t believe it..

But this is definitely something you need to see.

“My friends from Indianapolis gave me the nickname “Raccoon Herb” and it’s kind of stuck for over 30-years now.”

Raccoon Herb Bukea is one with nature.

“This is God’s country,” says Bukea. 

The feather in his hat shows his love of birds and his new found adoration for these guys: Great American White Pelicans.

And yes, they are right here in Indiana.

“The pelican’s migrated from Canada to Florida and this is their stopping point on the way back home,” says Bukea. 

The saying goes that birds of a feather flock together and as it goes for the pelicans, that’s extremely true.

They can have a wing span of 7 feet wide, which is easily spotted with black feathers on the tips of their wings.

This year is really the first year that these ocean birds have been spotted.

“This is- I think- the second group in two months,” says Ross Plotkin, a naturalist for the park. “The first group was smaller and this one is 4- 500 we think.”

While we most associate pelicans with the ocean, naturalist Ross Plotkin says this specific species prefers the type of land that Indiana and Canada best provide.

“They are sort of a lake species,” says Plotkin. “So they like the small pot-hole lakes up in central Canada so what we have here…it’s sort of simulating what they’re used to up there.”

As the sounds of the lake hit the shore, the pelicans feel right at home, here, in Indiana.

“If you’re interested [and want] to do your own research or come to God’s country and see for yourself,” says Bukea.

The Great American White Pelicans will only be here for about another week or so.

If you’d like to see the birds in their natural habitat, you better head that way sooner rather than later.

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