Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The pelicans

"Comically elegant ..." That's the first thing the Cornell Lab of Ornithology finds to tell us about the brown pelican. It fits. Watching them, I didn't know whether to laugh or admire.

There's the cool headgear; a white cap, dark brown collar, and orangey duck-tail haircut. And a yellow and pink neck scarf.

Or there's the Ministry of Silly Walks tryouts; these big birds do better in the air. Or in the water.

Watch them in this video, around 1:53.

And then there's the intelligence in their eyes.

Quietly thoughtful.

Or deeply cynical.

Or, more probably, they're just thinking, "Fish, fish, fish!"

These are big birds, smaller than the northern white pelican, but still hefty; they may weigh up to 5.5 kilos (12 pounds) and have a wingspan of up to 8 feet, about the same as our bald eagles. The bill is about a foot long, and can expand to hold 3 gallons (12 litres) of water.

Adults have white heads, sometimes with a tinge of yellow. In breeding season (which depends on the location and climate), the back and sides of the neck turn a deep reddish brown.

The youngsters have brown heads and necks, and brown eyes.

The hooked tip of the bill is yellow and orange in both the adults and the young pelicans.

With the lens on the camera at the time, to get a full shot from close up, I had to tip the camera. This large adult is waiting beside the fish-gutting table for scraps.

Pelicans are able fishers, diving from the air to stun small fish, which they scoop up in their bills. But they adapt quickly to human activities, and all the pelicans we saw in Mazatlán were hanging around the beach, waiting to be fed.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting bird! That first picture is awesome!


If your comment is on a post older than a week, it will be held for moderation. Sorry about that, but spammers seem to love old posts!

Also, I have word verification on, because I found out that not only do I get spam without it, but it gets passed on to anyone commenting in that thread. Not cool!