Ryan Photographic -Pelecanidae - Pelicans


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Family Pelicanidae

Pelicans have long been a favorite of mine partly because I read this limerick by Dixon Lanier Merritt when I was a kid

“A wonderful bird is the Pelican.
His beak can hold more than his belly can.
He can hold in his beak
Enough food for a week!
But I'll be darned if I know how the hellican?”

There are eight species of pelican world-wide - I have been lucky enough to see three of them and hope to see the others eventually. They are all large birds and can be conveniently divided into brown pelicans and white pelicans. The white pelicans tend to nest on the ground while the brown pelicans nest in trees or on coastal rocks. While this might seem like a nice easy classification system it doesn't work. Turns out that the New World brown pelicans and white pelican are closely related while the other five species form another evolutonary branch.

All pelicans feed on fish - the brown pelican dives for them - the others work cooperatively to trap schools of fish which they then scoop up in that huge bill ("enough food for a week"). They will also opportunistically grab whatever food is available. There are reports of pelicans eating pigeons in London and a probably apocryphal story of an Australian pelican eating a small dog. I thoroughly enjoyed an incident I observed at Monkey Mia in Western Australia - visitors here can buy small pails of fish to feed the resident pod of Indian Ocean bottlenose dolphins. A young lady bought a pail of fish and started towards the water, followed very closely by a hungry pelican. She turned around, saw the pelican and speeded up - so did the pelican - you have no idea how fast they can walk. The lass took a horrfied look behind her and realized the pelican was gaining so burst into a run which prompted the pelican to take flight towards her, adroitly picking spilled fish off the sand as he went. Finally the girl screamed, dropped the pail of fish and took off at right angles soundly defeated. I'm sorry - I laughed until the tears flowed but she was probably really upset.

The photos of the brown pelicans diving rank among my most memorable photographic experiences.

To read more about pelicans you can check out the Wikipedia entry.

 

Pelecanus conspicillatus Australian pelican

Pelecanus conspicillatus, Australasian pelican, Murray River, Australia

Pelecanus conspicillatus, Australasian pelican, Murray River, Australia.

Pelecanus occidentalis Brown pelican

Pelecanus occidentalis, Brown pelican in fllight, Sea of Cortez-

BIRD 5535 Pelecanus occidentalis, Brown pelican in flight, Sea of Cortez, Mexico

Brown pelicans feeding

BIRD 4923 Pelecanus occidentalis, brown pelicans being fed, Loreto, Sea of Cortez

Brown pelican in flight

BIRD 4826 Pelecanus occidentalis, Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico.

Three brown pelicans in flight

BIRD 4837 Pelecanus occidentalis, brown pelicans in flight, Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico.

Young pelicans, Queen Bess Island, Louisiana

BIRD 2183 Pelecanus occidentalis, Young brown pelicans, Queen Bess Island, Louisiana.

Plelican flying past oiled up rocks

BIRD 2020 Pelecanus occidentalis, brown pelican in flight, oiled up rocks in background, Queen Bess Island, Louisiana after Deep Water Horizon oil spill.

Pelican being cleaned after Deep Water Horizon oil spill

BIRD 6583 Pelecanus occidentalis, brown pelican being cleaned at Fort Jackson, Louisiana after Deep Water Horizon oil spill.

Pelican being cleaned at Fort Jackson, Louisiana

BIRD 6585 Pelecanus occidentalis, brown pelican being cleaned at Fort Jackson, Louisiana after Deep Water Horizon oil spill.

Cleaning inside pelican beak after deep water horizon oil spill

BIRD 6632 Pelecanus occidentalis, brown pelican having inside of bill cleaned at Fort Jackson, Louisiana after Deep Water Horizon oil spill.

Young pelican being cleaned after Deep Water Horizon oil spill

BIRD 6582 Pelecanus occidentalis, young brown pelican being cleaned at Fort Jackson, Louisiana after Deep Water Horizon oil spill.

Cleaned pelicans awaiting release after Deep Water Horizon oil spill

BIRD 6598 Pelecanus occidentalis, brown pelicans awaiting release after being cleaned at Fort Jackson, Louisiana after Deep Water Horizon oil spill.

Pelecanus occidentalis Brown pelican, Loreto, Baja Calfornia Sur, Mexico

BIRD 6653 Pelecanus occidentalis Brown pelican, Loreto, Baja Calfornia Sur, Mexico

Pelecanus ocidentalis Brown pelican wheeling, Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico

BIRD 6567 Pelecanus ocidentalis Brown pelican wheeling, Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Pelecanus occidentalis Brown pelican Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico

BIRD 6548 Pelecanus occidentalis Brown pelican in dive, Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico

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