25 Highlights in 25 Weeks: Highlight #5 – The Wildlife

Pelican Lakes Resort & Golf turns 25 on July 12, 2024! To celebrate, we are listing the top 25 moments in Pelican Lakes’ history. These events are not ranked and highlight the biggest events, features, and happenings at the distinguished 27-hole facility in Northern Colorado.

Blog 5 out of 25: The Wildlife

It’s no secret that Pelican Lakes Resort & Golf in Windsor, CO is named after the majestic American White Pelican. It’s in the name after all…but what might not be known is dozens if not hundreds of other wildlife also call the vast property at 1600 Pelican Lakes Point their home.

Golfers can look to the sky and see birds, to the ground and see mammals and to the rivers and lakes and see fish, reptiles, amphibians, and crustaceans.

Let’s start with the courses’ namesake. 

The American White Pelican has been reported in Northern Colorado as early as the 1880s. The bird has likely been migrating through the area for centuries, but the first regional newspaper report of its residency came in the Oct. 20, 1881, edition of The Fort Collins Express and The Fort Collins Review. “A ranchman near Collins, brought in yesterday, a huge pelican, measuring eight feet from tip to tip of wings…It was shot on the wing, the ball passing through its head. Frank (Stover) will send it to Denver to be stuffed, and when completed it will be placed over the City drug store prescription desk.”

Each spring pelicans begin their migration from the Gulf Coast of Mexico, or California, to Northern Colorado. A primary habitat for the local birds is on the five man-made lakes that surround Pelican Lakes inside the Water Valley master-planned community. Residents often believe that the annual arrival of pelicans signifies the beginning of summer, and the end of the season when they migrate south.

While the pelican is the celebrated mascot at Pelican Lakes, it’s not the only bird to frequent the area. The list features numerous geese (Canadian, cackling, snow), gulls (ring-billed, California, Franklin’s), and everything from bald eagles to turkeys to pheasants to mallard ducks to Great Blue Herons to woodpeckers to crows to red-tailed hawks. Weld County is home to over 300 different birds, and we are confident most of those species have visited Pelican Lakes.

Canadian geese are the most common bird on the property. The migratory bird can be found at most parks, green spaces, and golf courses all along the Colorado Front Range, so Pelican Lakes is not a unique habitat for geese. Like other area golf courses, geese tend to be a nuisance due to the messes they make and damage they cause on the turf.

In October of 2016 Pelican Lakes hired an employee to specifically combat the goose problem. Pepper, a border collie from Utah who was 3 years old when hired, has introduced herself to every goose that’s dared to set its webbed feet on the property. She was initially trained as a ranch dog, but ultimately found her calling being a goose’s worst nightmare.

“Pepper carries a plus handicap,” said Pelican Lakes Head Golf Professional Kevin Cohrs. “She’s a plus handicap at chasing geese off the course, and wins ‘Employee of the Month’ pretty much every month.”

Since Pepper’s introduction to the course, the number of geese droppings and other damage has decreased significantly.

Birds aren’t the only animal spotted on the course. The area is littered with squirrels, rabbits, mice, racoons, foxes, beavers, voles, mice and even deer.

It’s not uncommon for golfers playing the front 9 to see deer wading through the river one day and the next a coyote trotting along the riverbank.

Beavers have been known to build dams along holes on the back 9 and voles commonly burrow under the snow in the winter months.

“If you think of an animal that lives along a river, it’s probably been seen at Pelican Lakes,” said Jason Weizenegger, the Pelican Lakes course superintendent. “We see a few bull snakes here and there, which is good because they’re helping us take care of the mice and other rodents.

“We’ve even seen Nessie and Big Foot, too,” Weizenegger jokes.

Every golfer has probably seen a snake on a golf course. It pretty much comes with the territory. Pelican Lakes is no different. Most bull snake sightings occur along the river’s edge. It’s rare to see a snake in the middle of the fairway at Pelican Lakes. It’s happened, but from what Weizenegger says, “If you leave them alone, they’ll leave you alone.”

The five man-made lakes that surround Pelican Lakes & Falls golf courses are loaded with fish.

The species range from largemouth and smallmouth bass, wiper, multiple species of catfish, walleye, crappie, perch, bluegill, carp, brook trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, splake, cutthroat, cutbow and many more.

The Water Valley Company, the parent company of Pelican Lakes, offers guided fishing tours on its lakes. For more information, visit watervalleyadventures.com.

If anyone has taken a picture of an animal at Pelican Lakes, please email it to golf@watervalley.com. We’re always interested in seeing which of our furry or slithery friends have jumped on the course without checking in at the pro shop.