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NEVADA FWO: A delicate balance
California-Nevada Offices , July 27, 2011
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American white pelicans gather at the base of Marble Bluff Fish Passage Facilty to take advantage of the yearly spawning migration of cui-ui.
American white pelicans gather at the base of Marble Bluff Fish Passage Facilty to take advantage of the yearly spawning migration of cui-ui. - Photo Credit: n/a

 By Jeannie Stafford, Nevada FWO public affairs specialist

White pelicans seen gathering on the lower Truckee River or soaring along the shoreline of Pyramid Lake are American white pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos). These pelicans are one of the largest of the pelican species with a wingspan of 110 inches.

The pelicans occurring at Pyramid Lake form one of the largest nesting colonies in the western U. S. and Canada. Each summer over 7,000 pairs of pelicans nest on Anaho Island. In 1930, Anaho Island was established as a National Wildlife Refuge as a sanctuary for birds that nest in colonies, primarily the American white pelicans.

American white pelicans usually lay from two to four eggs per year which are attended by both parents. The young remain in the nest from 17 to 25 days. They begin to fly when they are approximately 10 weeks old, moving to foraging grounds in the west where they stay until they begin their southward migration.

Each spring, pelicans gathering at the base of Marble Bluff Dam and at the mouth of the Truckee River are an indication that the cui-ui spawning migration is underway. These fish are an important food source to the pelicans, particularly during the breeding season. 

The number of fish moving up the river to spawn has a direct affect on the number of pelican chicks raised each year at Anaho Island. The success of the pelicans reproduction is directly correlated to the success of the spawning migrations. If there is a good spawning season for cui-ui, there is high reproduction success for the American white pelicans.  


Contact Info: Jeannie Stafford, 775-861-6300, jeannie_stafford@fws.gov



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