A rare annual birdwatching opportunity has returned to the Northland as a flock of American White Pelicans is making a temporary home in a Twin Ports area park.

Every spring, some flocks of these massive birds gather on the St. Louis River for a while before departing for their summer destinations into far Northern Minnesota and Canada.

American White Pelicans can have a wingspan that can reach from between 6 to up to 9 feet, according to The National Autobon Society.  With a wingspan that large, it makes them among the largest birds Minnesota sees in its sky through the year. These big birds migrate from southern coastal areas each spring to their summer mating locations marked in orange on the map below.

TSM Duluth/Wikimedia Commons
TSM Duluth/Wikimedia Commons
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Duluth is on the eastern part of their migration path, making this annual sighting kind of special for birders and anyone looking to check out this big feathered creatures.

Where to see the pelicans in Duluth

While you may see some pelicans elsewhere around the area, the congregation of birds that draws an audience of people each year is at Chambers Grove Park in the Fond du Lac neighborhood of Duluth.

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This nice riverside park has a nice playground and picnic space, a kayak launch, and a trail that traces the edge of the St. Louis River. The pelicans sometimes may be seen floating down the river or flying overhead right from the parking area, but you may need to walk a little to see the flock.

Tips for seeing the pelicans in Duluth

The pelicans will move around, but in the years I've gone to check them out, they seem to prefer the west bank of the St. Louis River. Over the weekend, most of them were grouped around an island in the river (seen below).

Google Maps/Canva/TSM Duluth
Google Maps/Canva/TSM Duluth
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The birds will move around on the river, with some of them flying around, leaving, and coming back to their home base at Chambers Grove Park. You can walk along the trail from the parking area along the east bank of the river to see where they are, with some good viewing north, just past the bigger island in the river.

In addition, you can catch a glimpse from the Highway 23 bridge if the birds are near this island. There is a sidewalk on the bridge, but not much in the way of parking along the highway, so if you're planning on viewing them from the bridge, you may want to park at Chambers Grove Park and walk.

Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
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When it comes to times to view the pelicans, you can see the birds at the park throughout the day. Going early in the morning, you'll see the birds huddled together in groups. As the sun comes up through the morning and into the daytime, you'll see the birds getting more active before they settle in again for the evening.

How long will the pelicans be in Duluth?

Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth
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It's hard to say. This is just a stop in their migration process further north. The birds have just recently started showing up on the St. Louis River, so you may have a little time before they depart to head further north, but you won't want to wait too long!

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Gallery Credit: Nick Cooper

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