Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Remembering What's Important: The California Brown Pelican

I raced the rain Tuesday.

I  hung the laundry up to dry.

Then I got on my bike to take bird pictures at Ballona Creek.  In the midst of the traffic, the noise, the never ending houses and apartments and businesses, lies this relatively quiet bike trail along the cement lined Ballona Creek.  There were yellow daisy like flowers everywhere, and water, and birds.

I did get back just after the first scattered drops began to fall.

Here's the California brown pelican.  More birds soon.

I left this image larger so if you click on it, you can see it much bigger
There's so much more than just the whole image of the pelican.  The feathers, they eye, the beak, the feet all demand our attention.  And this 'new' camera (I guess it will be the new one until I get another one) allows me to get close enough to see some of the details. 

About the feathers, from the US Fish and Wildlife Service:
"In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, pelicans were hunted for their feathers, which adorned women’s clothing, particularly hats."
I didn't realize that these pelicans had feathered Mohawks.  

At rest

There's a lot of information about the  on the California brown pelican on the Channel Islands National Park website.  Here's just a little bit of it:

"The brown pelican is the only pelican that is a plunge diver. The brown pelican is a unique feeder that makes impressive dives from ten to thirty above the surface. They are, however, able to dive from as high as one hundred feet. The deeper the meal the higher the dive. When it sees a potential meal it begins to tip downwards, the wings shape into a V, and dives. When the bill touches the surface of the water the pelican will push its legs and wings back creating a bit more force, under the water the bill opens and the pouch stretches out wide allowing the pelican to scoop up fish. The pelicans hit the water with such force that even fish six feet below the surface are stunned. Air sacs throughout the bird's body help to cushion the shock from the dive. Their pouch, attached to the lower mandible, when full can hold up to three gallons of water and fish, it is the largest pouch of any bird in the world. The pelican pops up to the surface, tips their head and bill forward letting the water drain out yet keeping the fish. Then they toss their head back to position the fish head first and swallow. It is said that brown pelicans can eat as much as four pounds of fish in one day."

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