Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)
Location: Longpoint, Melbourne Beach
Photo: © 2004 Jeffrey Berger

American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)
Location: Indian River Lagoon at Sebastian
Photo: © 2004 Jeffrey Berger

Our ubiquitous Brown Pelican has often been described as solemn, dignified, comical, and pompous. When pouched bills are pressed against breast, I think of them as pterodactyls masquerading as English butlers.

It is easy to tell the difference between our year-round Brown versus the migratory White, which visits our coasts only during the winter months. Our full-time resident sports a yellow crown and white neck ascending from its gray-feathered body. In contrast, our visitor from the North is a much larger bird with bright white feathers and black wingtips, visible only in flight.

When feeding, Brown Pelicans are spectacular plunge-divers that capture their meals with a splash. In contrast, American White Pelicans forage in groups, surrounding then scooping prey into their bills while swimming.

Whether small or large, native or visitor, here is a fitting tribute for all pelicans:

A wonderful bird is a pelican,

His bill will 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.

(The Pelican by Dixon Lanier Merritt - often misattributed to Ogden Nash.)


Vox Populi said...

please update us about your daughter whenever you can. We've said goodbye to so many in my family but so far none in this war. My thoughts are always with the men and women there. I imagine what they might be doing while I am typing .... please send our love. From Tampa to Iraq !!!!

Anonymous said...

I love pelicans, and the title, "Pelican Brief" is just beautiful. Thanks.
Dave C.

Pelican Products said...

That's actually pretty funny because I remember this one time I went on a family vacation and on this family vacation while being in San Francisco I took a steady picture of a seagull that was simply standing still. And right before I took the picture Mr. Seagull here decided to spread its wings and take off! But... Little did the bird know I took probably the nicest picture in the world of the seagull in mid air with wings completely expanded in mid flight. Sounds cool ey?? :)