Pelicans Back

Brown Pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis)

Two weeks after the mammoth pelican pow-wow, where several hundred of the great birds descended to feed on the North Basin, a much smaller group not exceeding fifty visited to check out the menu. They clustered in one spot near the eastern shore of the park, then flew to another spot farther out, then to a third and a fourth, but found nothing to get excited about. The birds scooped the water with their beaks but came up empty. In one cluster I saw the nearest thing to a gesture of aggression I’ve seem among these timid, peaceful birds — one bird briefly leveling an open beak against another, see the photo below. I saw two smaller groups of pelicans fly over the scene, circle a couple of times, and seeing no action below, fly off again. Before very long, all the ones on the water took off. Half an hour after they arrived, not a bird was seen on the surface of the North Basin but a couple of gulls and a Western Grebe.

Two days later around 7 a.m., with a low tide, they were back. This time, well over a hundred of them. One cluster of them found something to feed on and went bananas for a few minutes. Then that source tapered off and there was a lot of low flying and regrouping all over the North Basin, with slim results. A lot of bill dipping, not much swallowing. By 7:30 they decided it was over, and big numbers took off in a northerly and northwesterly direction. Here’s a short video of this visit (Thursday 7/8/21):

Brown Pelican leveling open beak at another

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