The American White Pelicans have been migrating thru West-central Iowa for the past three weeks. These large birds have an awkward prehistoric look with their large bills and head. They are quite skilled at fishing by plunging their bill with a large pouch into the water, scooping up fish to eat. Upon catching prey, they tip their bill up, drain out the water, and swallow their meal.
Pelicans are quite gregarious and can often be seen fishing in unison. Forming a semi-circle, they drive fish to shallow water and have a feeding frenzy.
The large webbed feet propel a pelican while swimming and are quite helpful for the water-skiing landing.
Another use for the large webbed feet is to help propel the bird during take-off; running along the surface of the water to become airborne.
Sometimes, unexpected bird behavior can be witnessed while spending hours in a photo blind.
And yes, birds do poop in flight.
Final Note: The big pouch on the bill is not used for carrying food, contrary to misconceptions, some of which are derived from cartoons.
12 thoughts on “The American White Pelican”
Excellent photo Mr. Stan. Looks like you are putting the Sony to good use.
Thank you Don. My Sony gear has really helped to take my photography to a new level. It has built my confidence in birds-in-flight and action photography.
Trusting that you are well–Do you have a summer location for work?
I have been taking the social distancing seriously. As far as summer work, it looks like I will be spending it in Iowa. I look forward to the day when Covid-19 settles down and I can visit you again.
Great photos! Thanks for sharing!
Thank you Joel.
Stan, yes there are areas where wildlife is far more abundant, but your photos are an example of how we can find wildlife anywhere, even in an area that is predominately filled with corn & beans. We just need to get out and observe.
I agree. Getting out is the reason I see wildlife. Migration season is a big bonus too.
Wonderful pelican photos. Does the one who is grabbing the other’s neck have the “breeding bump” on his bill? Maybe he’s an over-excited youngster. I’m assuming it’s a male. I could be wrong about that.
The cooperative fishing photo is also a great one.
Carol, I am thinking it is the male. And both birds had the bump on their bills.
Great photos again Stan, for some reason this was in my junk mail??? So while cleaning some things up today, I found it. I love those pelicans, I used to take coffee to the lake and watch them. Thanks
Sue, I am not sure why the messages are going to spam. To prevent that, you will have to add me to your “safe sender” list. We are lucky to have a place like Swan Lake and Black Hawk lake in the vicinity. Stay healthy.
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