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494 THE FEAST BENEATH - AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN
One of the largest birds in North America, the American White Pelican can weigh as much as 30 pounds with a wing span exceeding nine feet. They are highly dependent upon lakes, wetlands and coastal estuaries where fresh and salt water mix. Unlike the Brown Pelican, the American White Pelican does not dive for its food. Instead, several pelicans fish cooperatively, circling their prey, and then dipping their heads underwater to catch fish. American White Pelican populations are increasingly threatened, especially in the prairie pothole country of the Northern Great Plains, due to the draining of wetlands and the use of agricultural pesticides. Set aside in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt, Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge is among the nation's oldest and supports one of the largest breeding colonies of American White Pelicans in North America.