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Pelicans Are On Their Way Back To Minnesota

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Flocks of pelicans are on their way back to Minnesota from the Gulf Coast.

American white pelicans are among the world’s largest birds. The Department of Natural Resources says wingspans up to 9 feet, bright white plumage with black-edged wings and large, orange bills distinguish them from other species.

American white pelicans were driven to near extinction in the early 20th century. The DNR says there were no reports of nesting pelicans in Minnesota for 90 years, from 1878 until 1968. But conservation and federal regulations have helped pelicans make a slow and steady comeback.

An estimated 22,000 pairs nest at 16 sites on seven lakes across Minnesota.

DNR nongame wildlife specialist Lisa Gelvin-Innvaer says the prairie pothole region of western Minnesota hosts 22 percent of the species’ global population.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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