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Rare bird appears at refuge on Sanibel Island

Posted at 7:48 AM, Mar 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-02 18:52:53-05

SANIBEL ISLAND, Fla. (AP) - A great white pelican has appeared at the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge - a good 4,000 miles from its home range.

The Big White African Pelican was first spotted Sunday.

The stray pelican immediately made waves in the birding community, including among "Ding" Darling staff, who promptly made it the refuge's Facebook cover photo. "Ding" Darling Supervisory Ranger Toni Westland says it's the "rarest of the rarest".
It may be the first North American sighting of the bird, which is a resident of parts of Europe, Asia and Africa.

It's much larger than other, native pelicans in the refuge.

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Rare Bird Alert! Great White Pelican at the refuge this AM at the Observation Tower. It is native to Africa.#birding ...

Posted by J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge (Official) on Sunday, February 28, 2016