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Big pelicans spotted on southern Illinois lakes

Published: Friday, March 7, 2014 5:38 p.m. CST

CARBONDALE – Midwest weather hasn't felt much like spring the past two weeks but the big pelicans on a pair of southern Illinois lakes are nonetheless headed north after leaving winter homes on the Gulf of Mexico.

T.J. Benson is an avian ecologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey. He tells the Southern Illinoisan in Carbondale (http://bit.ly/1fdFrEy ) that the birds on Crab Orchard Lake and Rend Lake are white pelicans.

Benson says they pass through Illinois twice a year travelling between summer homes in North Dakota, Minnesota and Canada and their winter habitat.

He says the birds are hard to miss. They're huge with wing spans of almost 8 feet.

The pelicans may have gone unnoticed in the past but Benson says their population is getting larger for reasons that aren't clear.

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Information from: Southern Illinoisan, http://www.southernillinoisan.com

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