“Pelly” by David Kravetz. Photographed at Jacobson Park

According to Nashville’s WKRN, “Here in Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky, there is a lot of beauty to be seen on our area lakes, and in recent years, American White Pelicans have increased their presence in our region during the fall and winter months during the migration south.”
Our southeast Lexington neighbors have an excellent opportunity to observe an American white pelican at our very own neighborhood park. Nicknamed “Pelly” by area photographers, he (or she) has been living at Jacobson Park since around Fall of 2021. 
One neighbor has dubbed it a “pelicwan,” because “it looked like a swan with a pelican beak from afar.” Lake Linville in nearby Mt. Vernon has also been home to at least one Pelican this past winter. 
While American white pelicans typically stay in flocks, Pelly has so far remained the only one of his species here, content to hang out with Jacobson’s double-crested cormorants. Neighborhood photographer David Kravetz says, “I went this morning and watched him playing with the cormorants…actually mimicking them. He can be hilarious, trying to fit in.”
Birdwatchers Digest reports, “Although American white pelicans were a rare transient through Kentucky in historical times, it’s only in the past 20 years that we have begun to see regularity to their occurrence and a great increase in their numbers.” 
Kirkpatrick & Co.: logo that says know your neighborsAnna Wiker,  a park naturalist with Parks & Recreation, says, “I think this is a really great opportunity for folks to get out to a local park and see something that you’re not normally going to see in Kentucky.” According to Wiker, American white pelicans are generally associated with the coast and the Western United States. While no one is sure exactly how Pelly wound up at Jacobson Park, an injury to its right wing during migration likely knocked it off course. The pelican has since recovered from the injury but remains a fixture at Jacobson Park. 
Lexington Parks and Recs have important reminders for our neighbors who plan on visiting Pelly or any of our local parks in the future:

  • Do not feed any of the wildlife. 
  • Do not chase wildlife!
  • Take care of wildlife that is in our parks. It’s common for water birds, including pelicans, ducks, cormorants, geese, etc. to be tangled in fishing line and cause lacerations that could lead to fatality. Be mindful.
  • Be responsible with cleaning up trash and disposing of it in proper locations.

This article also appears on page 7 of the April 2022 print edition of Hamburg Journal.