Gigantic Snowy Birds Visit Florida

White pelican on a mud flat

Photo by Bill Lea

Join us in welcoming the majestic White Pelicans to their Winter Residence during our First Annual White Pelican Celebration Festival on January 6-8, 2017 at the Historic Smallwood Store on Chokoloskee Island, Florida.  With nearly a 9ft. wingspan these beautiful creatures make the 3,000 mile journey back to the 10,000 islands every year to escape the frigid temperatures of the Northwest and Southern Canada.

There will be a Pelagic Boat Tour (advanced reservations required) leaving the docks every 30 minutes.  You will be able to approach, observe and photograph these giants from a small 6 person motorboat or kayak.  This allows for a very natural and intimate connection with the Pelicans while still maintaining a safe distance.  A naturalist will be with each excursion to answer questions and tell you everything you’ll want to know about this very unique species.

Activities like arts & craft booths including a variety of white pelican items and literature, authentic Seminole foods and much more, guided walking tours of the Island for the birding enthusiast and entertainment by local musicians throughout the weekend.  Be sure to allow time to visit the Historic Smallwood Store Museum and learn about the history of the pioneers who settled what is considered “Florida’s Last Frontier”.

Enjoy a weekend of informative speakers and birding excursions with a team of White Pelican experts throughout the 10,000 Islands.  Our guest speaker, Dr. Tommy King, will be doing two different 30 minute slide presentations on “The Migration and Nesting of the White Pelicans” and “The Effects of the Deep Horizon Oil Spill on the White Pelicans”.  Dr. Tommy King is a research wildlife biologist located in the USDA/APHIS/WS National Wildlife Research Center, Mississippi Field Station.  His current research interest include pelican and cormorant movement ecology, pelican and cormorant colony breeding dynamics, efficacy of pelican harassment at the local level, pelican energetics and census/survey techniques.

Chokoloskee Island is unique because it is where the Everglades National Park, Big Cypress Preserve and Fahkahatchee Strand Preserve meet as one.  This area is known as the “Three Corners” and offers some of the best birding opportunities in North America.  This protected and undeveloped land is home to the great flocks of White Pelicans from December through April.  They hunt, roost and thrive here in the protected mangrove Islands.

Please check back for updates at  You can find a Schedule of Events at White Pelican Celebration 2017.  All Pelagic Boat Tours are $40.00 per person for a 1 hour motorized boat tour, or 1 1/2 hour kayak tour.  To make reservations for the Pelagic Boat Tour please call (239) 695-0016 or (239)695-2989, or click Buy Tickets button on this page for online purchase for your select date.

Local Lodging Partners:

Parkway Motel
Outdoor Resorts & Marina
Rod & Gun Club
Ivey House
Everglades City Motel
Captains Table Hotel
Port of the Islands
Chokoloskee Island Park – camping sites
Collier-Seminole State Park – camping sites