American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)
The White Pelican is usually found only in the winter months here in Florida and by April or May are usually heading back up north. Before leaving the warm waters of the south, breeding adults develop a horny knob on their bills. It’s believed the knobs serve a twofold purpose. They may signal members of the opposite sex that they are in the market for a mate, and they also serve as a target for other adults when they arrive at their northern breeding grounds and fight for territories. Fighting adults aim for these knobs and not the tender gular pouches that could cause fatal injury. Once eggs are laid, the knobs fall off. Photographed in Citrus County, Florida.