Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Talk Of The Town: Are There White Pelicans in Florida?

American White Pelicans at Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel Island, FL

“naplesQ.  We love pelicans! Are there white pelicans in Florida?  Stacey, Naples

A.  Yes, but just like our seasonal ‘snowbirds,’ the American white pelican can only be seen here in the winter, too!

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) in Tallahassee, unlike the brown pelican, which is found year-round in Florida, white pelicans are winter visitors to the state. In the summer, white pelican adults breed in colonies on lakes in the interior of western Canada and the northwestern United States. Winters are spent in southern Mexico, southern California and along the Gulf Coast states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida.

With a wingspan as great as nine and a half feet, the American white pelican is one of North America’s largest birds.

In flight, white pelicans have a graceful strong flight and usually fly in large flocks high in the air and in a V formation. Adults are a distinctive white with black wing tips. The bill, legs, and toes are reddish-orange or pink.

White pelicans also feed differently than brown pelicans. They do not plunge dive as brown pelicans do, instead, white pelicans float on the surface, submerge their heads and scoop up fish. They also often fish cooperatively in small groups, herding the fish in front of them.

While brown pelicans within peninsular Florida usually nest in mangroves or other trees, white pelicans build nests right on the ground. They clear or scrape an area and rim it with dirt, sticks or other debris.

A great place to spot them is at the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, where the featured photo by Diane Askew was taken. Do you notice the small white bird in front of the pelicans?  That’s an Ibis who popped in the picture!

Tidbit – Although it was removed from the national list of threatened species in 1987, the American white pelican is still considered endangered in Alberta, Canada.  Along with the American white pelican, the brown pelican is protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

Q.  Any new news about the Zika virus we need to know about?  Has the lack of rain affected any outcome? Andrew Mitchell, Naples

A. Mara Gambineri, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Health in Tallahassee said, “Fortunately, at this time there are no areas of ongoing, active transmission of Zika by mosquitoes in Florida. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to designate Miami-Dade County as a cautionary area. It remains critical for people who recently traveled overseas to an area with Zika to prevent mosquito bites for at least three weeks after they return home.

Before you travel, check to see if your destination is on the CDC list of areas here with Zika.

If you traveled to an area with Zika, you could have become infected and not know it, and you could spread the virus in your community if you do not take proper precautions against mosquito bites after you return home. A lack of rain has also reduced the mosquito populations.

The Governor, along with the State Surgeon General have been conducting roundtables with stakeholders to re-engage on Zika and ensure it is top of mind for all as we enter Summer and peak mosquito season. So far, they’ve had a roundtable in Miami-Dade County, Palm Beach County, Bay County, Duval County, along with calls with mosquito control district directors, Florida superintendents, VISIT Florida and other visitor bureaus. The purpose of these events is to also ensure our partners know to reach out with any resource needs.

The department continues to update our Zika counts daily. Happily, we’re seeing less travel-related Zika this year than last. At this time last year, we had more than 100 cases of travel-related Zika. To date, we’ve had just over 40. We are stressing the importance of prevention and preparedness. The strategies we used last year – draining standing water, covering screens and doors with well-fitting screens and using repellant still work. We continue to offer free testing to pregnant women at our county health departments. We hope that we do not identify any areas of active transmission this year, but stand ready to work with our community partners to respond as aggressively as we did last year to contain any outbreak.

At this point, we have received federal funding and continue to provide resources to the counties for mosquito surveillance and control and to our labs for testing. We’ve expanded our lab capacity and are thrilled that we’ll be able to offer the full complement of testing for Zika in our state this year.”

City of Naples Wins Award – Something to brag about! Doing their part to keep Naples the happiest and healthiest City in the country!

The City of Naples has received a 2nd place honor at a national conference in California on May 9 recognizing the City of Naples for improving the health and wellbeing of their employees and their wellness initiatives.  Lori McCullers, the city of Naples risk manager attended the ceremony to accept the State and Local Government Benefits Association (SALGBA) award. In addition, McCullers shares that the city was the recipient of the American Heart Association’s Platinum Fit-Friendly Worksite award for the past two years (2015 and 2016) and finalist for the Cigna Well-Being Award in 2016.

In case you missed it, this past March it was announced Naples and the nearby communities of Immokalee and Marco Island took the No. 1 spot for the second year in a row for the healthiest, happiest city in the US! – Gallup-Healthways State of American Well-Being Rankings.

Great job!

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