Pelicans everywhere during Rockton’s Pelican Fest


Sharon Hecox, Director of Stateline Mass Transit District, offered free transportation between Rockton and Nygren Wetlands Overlook during Pelican Fest, Saturday, May 21.

“Rocky Road” strolled the streets in downtown Rockton posing for pictures with the kids during Rockton Pelican Fest on Saturday, May 21. Everyone knew Rocky Road wasn’t a real pelican - the real deal was just up the street in Village Hall strutting his stuff.

Karen Herdklotz, Director of “Hoo” Haven, an animal rescue facility at 10823 Cleveland Rd. in Durand, introduced Rocky, one of the many birds and animals living at “Hoo” Haven.

Although Rocky is unable to fly, he entertained kids and adults, snapping his beak and pacing around the enclosure.

Karen Herdklotz, Director of "Hoo" Haven, an animal rescue and rehabilitation Center in Durand, introduced Rocky, a white pelican she rescued and who is now a resident of "Hoo" Haven. Rocky made himself at home in the meeting room at Rockton Village Hall.

The audience learned that most of the American white pelicans are white with black trim. They have a wing span of 8-1/2 to 9 feet. Rocky is 42 inches tall and has a 12-inch beak.

Pelicans usually weigh about 16 pounds and have a vertebra in their neck that prohibits them from raising their faces.

During mating season, the pelican develops a fibrous plate on the beak, know as a nuptial tubercle. The tubercle falls off after mating season.

One to three eggs hatch in about a month.

Most pelicans don’t dive from the air for fish. They float along the water and scoop up fish with their enormous bill. The pelican’s bill can hold up to three gallons of water.

So why are hundreds of pelicans making their way from the northern states and Canada and stopping at Nygren Wetland Preserve and in Rockton from early spring to mid-summer?

No one really knows. Some say the birds use to follow the Mississippi River and have drifted east. Others say Hurricane Katrina somehow interfered with the route.

Following Rocky’s appearance, Sinnissippi Audubon President Jennifer Kuroda introduced a peregrine falcon, also a resident of “Hoo” Haven.

There was a lot going on between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Walking tours were available at Nygren Wetlands throughout the day. Free shuttle bus service was provided by SMTD Transit, bringing visitors back and forth from Rockton to Nygren Overlook.

Store owners: After the VineDee Dee's Main St. Coffee & DecorThe Gem ShopJR Finally Art Studio & GalleryPick-A-Dilly AntiquesRay's Family RestaurantRockton Inn Pub & Grub, and Sugar Britches offered specials during the festival.

Jill Rae, event sponsor and owner of Jill Rae Finally, Studio and Gallery in Rockton, offers "Rocky Road" a drink and a hug during Pelican Fest, Saturday, May 21.

The Sinnissippi Audubon Society were hosts of an early bird hike beginning at 7:30 a.m.

Birder and photographer Bryan Holliday displayed his work at Talcott Free Library.

Kid’s found lots of activities, bounce houses, classes, and pelican robots. The robots were provided by Stateline STEM Academy.

Around noon, while taking in all the pelican-related activities along Main Street, visitors were thrilled to see several dozen white pelicans flying over the Village.

Pelican Fest was presented by Natural Land InstituteSinnissippi Audubon Society, the Village of Rockton, and JR Finally Art Studio & Gallery.

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