Saturday, March 14, 2009

Brown Pelican Performance

I watched what I believe was a male brown pelican, showing his bright, breeding colors. He dove right in front of me to scoop up a fish. A sea gull flew over to wait for him to empty the water out of his pouch, thinking it might be able to steal the fish. It was quite a performance. I was surprised when I got home and looked at the photos. I hadn't realized how big their throat pouch gets when it's full of water. That was amazing! The photos also revealed that this particular pelican had a leg band. It would be interesting to know it's history.

The brown pelican is the smallest member of the species. There are four subspecies of brown pelicans, two of which reside in the United States, the eastern brown pelican and the California brown pelican. The brown pelican is the only pelican that is a plunge diver, and can dive from as high as 65 feet in the air to catch marine fish.

Females are identical to males but are slightly smaller. These are the only dark-colored pelicans. Non breeding adults have white or yellowish head and neck and grayish brown bodies. Breeding birds have dark hind neck and a yellow patch on fore neck. Immature pelicans have a white neck rather than a dark red one. Brown Pelicans can reach lengths of three and a half feet. Wing spans can be nearly eight feet long. An adult will weigh from 5 to 8 pounds and eat 3 to 4 pounds of fish per day.

In this area, they breed throughout the year; only in spring in northernmost part of their range. The nest locations vary from a simple scrape on the ground on an island to a large stick nest in mangroves or low trees. Twigs and grasses are brought by the male to the female for her to construct. They nest in colonies, usually on islands. The female lays 2 to 4 eggs, late winter or early spring, that are incubated for four weeks by both the male and the female. Young usually leave the nest in 9–11 weeks and sexually mature at 2 1/2 to 3 years of age. In favorable conditions a pelican can live to be 30 plus years old.

Click photos to enlarge.







19 comments:

i beati said...

good shots all of them Sandy

Bryan said...

Hehe, that seagull looks anxious.

ratmammy said...

oh my , more pelicans! they are such fascinating birds!

Kerri said...

WOW! That last one is my fav!

Michele said...

I have never seen a pelican before so I though these to be most fascinating!! Very nice!

Lilli & Nevada said...

My goodness you have captured them so well.
Thanks for your visit and prayers for my TC & Hubby

ChrisC and JonJ said...

I love those birds!!!

~3 Sides of Crazy~ said...

Beautiful captures!!

Babooshka said...

These are excellent. A fantastic bird.

Indrani said...

Majestic birds and you have some lovely shots!

Dianne said...

I love the top shot, the wings are amazing!!

Tina said...

those are great shots. love the first flying action one. very cool

Mimi said...

What wonderful shots of these cool birds!

Manz said...

They really are big birds!

Interesting post with some great images. That last one is terrific.

Secret Mom Thoughts said...

Beautiful bird and shot.

M3rryfi31d-b0y said...

Pelicans are so much fun to watch on the beaches at this time of the year. I feel very bad for them sometimes because i hear stories about them dieing from hitting there head so much or getting hooked by the pier!:(

Tootie said...

I have had the Thriller experience, and you are right, it's a real great time. I've already done a post with that as the subject on my 'Lazy Days' blog. I have photos and plenty of videos (also posted on YouTube). Check it out..

http://sanibeltoots.blogspot.com/2009/02/saturday-sanibel-thrill.html

Glennis said...

Good shots, lucky you being in the right spot.

Glennis said...

Great shot, specially the last one. You really caught that one well.