At long last the American White Pelican. What can I say? Beautiful and yet odd looking. Graceful and yet very functional looking. No matter how you see them, they were truly a joy to see.
The American White Pelican is one of the largest flying birds in America. It is considerably larger than the Bald Eagle, but smaller than the California Condor. This late in the year, these are obviously non-breeding adults. During the breeding season, adults will also grow an unusual projection or horn on the upper mandible near the tip of the bill.
I must admit, I knew very little about this water bird. During the photo shoot, I made a couple of mistakes in my thinking about the scene unfolding before me. I was hoping to see one come soaring overhead and dive bomb the water surface, scooping up a morning snack…what a picture! However, after reading about them at home later that day, I found out that the American White Pelican doesn’t plunge dive like their cousin the Brown Pelican.
Another misconception I made concerned the smaller black bird next to them. There were a total of five White Pelican’s in my view. All around them were about 15 to 20 of these smaller black birds. Every where the pelicans went, the black birds were right there with them, often very close. So naturally, I assumed these may be their little babies. If you look closely, both have a little “hook” at the end of their beak. Both had the same shape to their neck. However, after I looked these smaller black birds up on the internet, thank you Google, I discovered that they were in fact Black Cormorants.
The Cormorants are divers, and let me tell you, they live up to their name. We would watch one go under and he would be under the water for 30 seconds to just over a minute, and would then surface, grab a quick breath, and go right back under.
But enough of the biology lesson…just look at these two wonderful birds. Side by side, different looks, different feeding styles, different in size, practically different in every way, but side by side in harmony nonetheless. Boy, could we learn a lot from these two birdbrains.
We sat there and watched the pelicans for over an hour, and took bunches of pictures, much more than I could post here. I simply could not leave as long as they were there. Finally, one began to break away from the crowd, took to the air, and with smooth, heavy wingbeats, the rest immediately followed.
What a day! If you’ve been following along, you’ll know that we saw a giraffe, zebras, camels, white egrets, American white pelicans, and black cormorants…so far. But I haven’t even taken you to the boardwalk yet, and I must say, we had some amazing sights there as well. This was one of those days a photographer dreams about. Clear skies and great subjects to digitally immortalize.
Monica and I plan on making a few of these photos into the 8 x 8 wall portraits that I have been talking about. I can’t wait to see them on our wall! How about you? Let me know if you’d like a couple. Let me know if you just find these amazing birds just as oddly beautiful and functionally graceful as I do. Until next time, Enjoy Our Wonderful World!