Sunday, April 09, 2006


A wonderful bird is the pelican,

His bill can hold more than his belican,

He can take in his beak,

Food enough for a week,

But I’m damned if I see how the helican

That limerick by Dixon Merritt may be one of the reasons people tend to regard Pelicans as slightly comica;l a bit like penguins. Like penguins, pelicans can look a bit ungainly and comical on land, weighted forward by that huge bill and perched on their big feet. But like penguins, pelicans didn't evolve to look slick on land they evolved to be slick in water. If you ever have chance to watch pelicans flying along a beach on those big winds and then divebombing a school of fish then you'll definitely see them in a different light. Doing what they have evolved to do pelicans look amazingly graceful.

These are shots of the Brown pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, and if they look a bit grainy its because they were taken using my older camera and a bit of digital zoom. The birds had cottoned onto the fact that sport fisherman cleaned their fish at this dock and that people like watching them eat stuff so were begging for scraps.


Endment said...

I well remember learning that limerick when I was a child. It didn't change my perspective that pelicans are graceful birds.. Perhaps that is because I usually watched them in flight. Thanks for sharing these photos

Pam in Tucson said...

I enjoyed these photos, tai, and of course the limerick is one from my childhood, too. When we travel to California, we make a point of finding pelicans by the ocean -- we love to watch them fly and glide into the water. Sometimes storms will blow them hundreds of miles inland. When they arrive in Arizona, AZ Fish & Wildlife will pick them up and return them to the California coast. We once passed one waiting by the side of the highway; he looked as if he was hitchhiking. We called the authorities and gave them the location, so they could pick him up.

tai haku said...

Thank you both - I'd never seen wild pelicans before this trip (Idon't think the queen's feral flock of 5 or so in regent's (or is it hyde?) park counts) and was impressed by their power in the air and divebombing ability.

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wolf21m said...

I hadn't heard the limerick. Thanks for sharing. I love pelicans. Here is Idaho we have the white pelicans. They are amazingly graceful in flight.