One for Wednesday

Brown Pelican. Oh, graceful wave rider of the Pacific coast.

pelican collageCoursing parallel to the beach, a trio of  Brown Pelicans skims the wave crests teasing whitecaps from the swells. Gliding mere millimeters above the water they pivot oh so slightly as the wave begins to break, changing direction to align with the next incoming wave and continue south against the wind . Watch as one breaks from formation, circling back to the silky interwave surface, rising on wing then diving, bill-first, breaking the surface with lance-like precision. A pause and a shake of the bill as a fish, sometimes, drops into the pouch.

At least that’s how most Brown Pelicans do it: soaring, circling, diving. But, in the pelican world as in all of nature, individuals don’t always follow the rules we prescribe to their kind. As they learn and adapt they can adopt new behaviors. One clever fellow in San Diego has learned to conserve precious energy by perching on a pier rather than sailing the seas. Below, fish school around the pilings; his keen eye misses nothing. He watches, picks just the right moment and bombs down to the bounty below. Success is a flash of silver as a fish is captured and swallowed.

Ah, so much easier than having to fly around all day.

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6 thoughts on “One for Wednesday

  1. We are very lucky that we are able to enjoy watching Brown Pelicans on the southern California coast. When I was growing up on the beach down there, I rarely saw pelicans. DDT and other pesticides decimated the Brown Pelican population (due to thin egg shells). When I return now to visit my home town, I am always happy to see so many pelicans skimming the waves. It is a beautiful site.

    • Dave, thanks for the reminder. It’s true, I remember pelicans being unusual in Northern California too. How nice it it so expect to see them, and Bald Eagles, and Peregrines, and….now, if we could just learn to from that lesson.

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