The Non-White Pelican

Coming to you once again from the land to the North.  Things seem to be progressing overall up here at Mayo, however, there are those points where frustration starts to step in.  Linda has now made her way through three different surgeries in under a week and now preparing for the fourth and hopefully final one.  Her valve replacement appears successful, but the heart rhythm hasn’t returned to a proper level requiring a permanent pacemaker to be put in.  At this point, we are just waiting around to find out when that is going to happen.   Comforting to know she is being cared for by some of the best there is.

Thought I would get started with a new post until news came through on the schedule.

Brown Pelican found at South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, Texas, December 2016

If you recall from the previous post, I had dragged out the soapbox and was venting some displeasure on some of the bird names out there.  Specifically bird names based on features that are difficult to tell with one in your hands much less trying to discern the characteristic out in the field.  My blogger friend CJ noted the Latin naming takes some of that out of the equation, but Aythya collaris just doesn’t roll off the tongue like Ring-Necked Duck and it gives my Latin education brother Ron a definite advantage (not to mentioned it is impossible to see the “collaris”… sorry).  While looking through the post queue, noticed this series.

Hit the jump to see some of my favorite pics of this coastal bird.

Brown Pelican found at South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, Texas, December 2016

Now this bird has it going on.  There are 8 species of Pelicans as far as I can tell from a brief bit of research on the net.  It is a bit easier for us here in the States as we only have two of the 8 that is really accessible to us barring one of the other species being blown seriously off course.  That gives us the White Pelican (link here) and the Brown Pelican.  Now if you see a White Pelican… you pretty much know you are looking at a White Pelican due to the fact it is predominantly … wait for it … wait for it .. white.  You might get a glimpse of the black wing tips – harder if they are cruising on the water,  but beyond the yellowish bills, they are white satin.  See a Pelican that isn’t white…then beyond a freak hurricane you can be assured it is a Brown Pelican.

Brown Pelican found at South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, Texas, December 2016

Hell, their even pretty much brown from the neck down.  (Note, I would love to see a Peruvian Pelican, those look really cool).  White Pelicans are pretty common through the western 2/3rds of the US.  In contrast, to witness one of these Brown Pelicans you need to make your way to the coasts – primarily southern with some limited progression up the east and west coast.  We happened to be on the Texas Gulf Coast when we captures these particular specimens back in December 2016.

Brown Pelican found at South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, Texas, December 2016

These “bird on a post” pictures were taken at the South Padre Island Bird Viewing and Nature Center.  This place is well known in the birding world and hosts a large amount of visitors on their boardwalks.  The plus side of that is the birds that hang around in that area are well acclimated to humans – especially ones carrying large glass.   This particular specimen was at complete ease with the bazooka barrel pointed straight at it.  “Work it for the camera!”

Brown Pelican found at South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, Texas, December 2016

I have featured the Brown Pelican a number of times on the blog (link here, here and here…oh, and a not so flattering encounter with a Cormorant here).  This set above is probably one of my favorites other than the water dojo-water fight with the Cormorant.  It always helps when you have an accommodating subject and a clean shot to it.  All in all a pretty impressive bird.  I would like it a lot more if I hadn’t seen a couple of them trying to take advantage of a hooked Tern (link here).  That experience soured me a bit on these apparent opportunists.  I understand we all have to eat, but you’d think they would have the honor to earn it.

Today’s post is more about looking at pretty pictures than really diving into the bird (especially since it has already been featured so many times).  So it isn’t a complete waste of your time, the White Pelican comes at the top of the weight scale coming out at a hefty 20 pounds.  Only the Great White and the Dalmatian are bigger in the family which top out at 24 and 26 lbs respectively.  The Browns are significantly smaller than their white kinfolk tipping the scales at a mere 11 pounds.  Still not too shabby for a bird (especially if you happen to be fish).  Settings definitely has a way of changing your perspective.  The entire time we were there, the locals were pointing out the White Pelicans, thrilled that they had come back to winter.  I on the other had kept my attention on the Browns as those were far more interesting to me due to there restricted range (… think Ron already has these from the California or Ft Myers trips so no gloat there).

Going to wrap it there – take it easy everyone.

5 thoughts on “The Non-White Pelican”

  1. Brown Pelicans, I always love to see them fly above the Gulf water and then dive in to catch fish. South Padre Island National Wildlife Area is an awesome place!
    That is some nail biters you have been through lately. Keeping you guys in our thoughts as you continue on your Minnesota rebuild program.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. South Padre is one awesome place if you happen to be into birds – if you need a shorebird or swimmer you are bound to find them there – not to mention a nice boardwalk so you don’t have to get your feet wet (or startle the birds). I think the worst of it is behind Linda now. Will have to update everyone in my next post, but it has been an emotional drain from me – can’t imagine what it has been like for Linda! Thanks for dropping by CJ – always good to hear from you – by the looks of it you will be heading out on your adventures soon.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My favorite bird! We are fortunate enough to see them riding the waves in the Atlantic Ocean. Occasionally, they will fly over us in the water & standing on the beach. It takes my breath away every time. To watch them feed is amazing when they dive bomb.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely an exhilarating experience to see them blast into the water (only rivaled by the tenacity of the Osprey). I also find it amazing how graceful they are in the air, practically effortless as they ride the wind. Thanks for checking my post out and taking the time to comment – I actually have another series on the Brown Pelican which will be on its way hopefully shortly – dealing with some family healing at the moment which has put a small hitch in my posting cycle.

      Liked by 1 person

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