Pelicans up close…

Brown Pelicans are the only type that feed by plunging into the water, stunning small fish with the impact of their large bodies and scooping them up in their expandable throat pouches.

pelican 6

A good news story — Brown Pelicans were once severely endangered in the United States. The major cause of their decline was pesticide poisoning. Since DDT was banned, there has been a full recovery on the east coast and other populations are showing steady improvement.

A pelican’s bill does have a larger capacity than its stomach. A pelican’s stomach can hold up to 1 gallon (3.79 liters), while its pouch can hold up to 3 gallons (11.36 liters). That adds up to the equivalent of 8 pounds (3.63 kilograms) in the stomach and about 24 pounds (10.89 kilograms) in the pouch.

The average Brown Pelican weighs 4-7 pounds. Their wingspan is usually 6-7 feet. Fossil records show that pelicans have been around for more than 40 million years, so they must be doing something right!

When it comes to wildlife, you have to photograph what you got…and we got pelicans. Squadrons of them!

Living in a marina on water in a fishing village on the east coast of Florida, you are guaranteed pelicans as your neighbours.

A few days ago we took the opportunity of a sunny, calm day to toot around the Manatee Pocket in our dinghy, just to see what we would see. And we saw pelicans.

I didn’t have my long lens so we had to get pretty close to photograph these guys in the detail I hoped for. I also used a superfast shutter speed and “continuous shoot”. They move awfully fast when they’re flying about, so I’m pleased that Ā I managed to capture some images that worked.

I don’t think I could have got these reflections if I hadn’t been in a dinghy. I can see why photographers get hooked on wildlife photography. I hope to head out again one of these days to spend more time with our pelican friends.

24 thoughts on “Pelicans up close…

  1. They’re fascinating! I had no idea they had so much storage space in them šŸ™‚ My father loved watching pelicans when my parents traveled to coastal areas and he used to joke that he wanted to come back as one so I always think of him when I see a photo of one (since I don’t see them in person here in AZ).

  2. Beautiful! Quite a few years ago (in my B.C. days–before children), my husband and I went to a barrier island off the coast of South Carolina. There were so many pelicans! One of the other folks who went with us on this boat tour called the pelicans the “Bull Island Air Force.” I love watching them!

  3. What a great series of images you captured. I especially love the last pelican image because of the great reflection yet my favourite of all is the first one because of teh rich colours combined with some action. Great work

  4. Wonderful pictures. I love pelicans! I find it fascinating that something that is so awkward on land, wobbling on their big feet, looking like they will fall over at any moment, can be so graceful in the air. And those dives into the water!!!

  5. Such wonderful action shot of these interesting birds! I love the sprays of water, the wing-spans and those gorgeous reflections too! Water is such a fascinating element for me and I don’t have any close by, so really appreciate it when I can see water shots! So interesting to read about pelicans too! An informative and beautiful series, Sherry!

  6. I loved these on Flickr and love them even more here! Phenomenal captures of these beautiful creatures! Gorgeous light and reflection to boot!

  7. You’ll have a fantastic series of photos that I’m sure will be selling like hotcakes. Good call on using “continuous shoot”, and a good reminder – I forget to use it when I should. The colors are spectacular!!

  8. These are great, Sherry. I love to watch pelicans, they are so graceful and clumsy at the same time. When they hit the water it looks like their wings are going to be crippled but they survive. You got really good clarity and I like the reflections. šŸ™‚

  9. Great shots, Sherry. I love the reflections. I am looking forward to more shots from your aquatic adventures.

  10. One of my favourite posts ever. I have a special thing for pelicans (they are the best fishermen) and am missing them this year. Glad to see them through your eyes and these exquisite images.

  11. Marvelous photos! I happen to like pelicans and I get fascinated watching them go after their food. Amazing creatures. Nicely done, Sherry!

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