Tag Archives: Brown Pelican

Brown Pelican, Where Is He Going?

Watching and learning to predict behavior goes a long way in bird photography. I saw this Brown Pelican coming in low over the water and was sure he would skim by right in front of me.

Brown Pelican Flying In
Brown Pelican Flying In

Nope.

Brown Pelican Flying In
Brown Pelican Flying In

He pulled up and landed on a dock piling.

Brown Pelican
Brown Pelican

The Pelican’s big feet managed to hold on the piling cap, but he didn’t look too comfy.

Brown Pelican
Brown Pelican

Brown Pelican Show-off

I can’t help but smile when I see a Brown Pelican, they are just goofy looking birds.

Brown Pelicans on Dock
Brown Pelicans on Dock

Then, they do something even goofier looking.

Brown Pelicans on Dock
Brown Pelicans on Dock

South Carolina’s coastal bays and rivers are full of entertainment.

Brown Pelicans on Dock
Brown Pelicans, a Cormorant, a few gulls and terns on Dock

Open wide!

Brown Pelicans on Dock
Brown Pelicans, a Cormorant, a few gulls and terns on Dock

Story River, from a boat, September 13, 2019

Brown Pelican Showing Off His Feet

Brown Pelicans are fascinating to watch in flight, so graceful yet so prehistoric looking.

Brown Pelican Fly By
Brown Pelican Fly By

I thought this one was going to land and try to catch a fish. He dropped his feet.

Brown Pelican Fly By
Brown Pelican Fly By

But then he tucked them in as he glided over a school of jumping fish.

Brown Pelican Fly By
Brown Pelican Fly By

Fooled me again.

Brown Pelicans eat by either diving into the water and scooping food into their beak/pouch or sometimes by bobbing on the water and snatching up a fish, not by picking it up with their feet–I’m not sure what he was up to here.

Brown Pelican Fly By
Brown Pelican Fly By

Then it was landing gear up and away he went down the river, no lunch.

Brown Pelican Fly By
Brown Pelican Fly By

Bird Rookery

The rookery islands do not rise much above sea level which is one of the reasons the Brown Pelican nests have a low success rate. Over wash from storm driven tides can and has easily wiped out whole colonies on this and other barrier islands.

Bird Rookery
Bird Rookery

The bird chaos was amazing with numerous species in addition to the Brown Pelicans using the island. Snowy Egrets, Tricolored Herons, and Laughing Gulls were well represented.

Bird Rookery
Bird Rookery

This view is the sea-ward end of the island, with the shore crowded with Brown Pelicans and Laughing Gulls. The island down to the low tide mark is a protected preserve.

Bird Rookery
Bird Rookery, Sign: “Island Closed – Do Not Come Ashore”

Shore access is not allowed during nesting season; these images were all taken from a boat at a shutter speed of 1/2000th of a second to help compensate for the boat movement.

See my previous post Brown Pelican Chicks for a closer look at five chicks.

Brown Pelican Chicks

Brown Pelicans nest on several islands that are really not much more than sand bars off the Charleston, SC coast. Storms and the tides shift the availability and viability of nesting sites from year to year. I had the privileged to observe one of these sites this morning, where the Pelican chicks are out of their nests but not yet flying or getting their own food.

This particular island was re-nourished with sand dredged from the Folly River last year with spectacular results for this year’s nesting Pelicans.

Brown Pelican Chicks
Brown Pelican Chicks

Shore access is not allowed during nesting season; these images were all taken from a boat at a shutter speed of 1/2000th of a second to help compensate for the boat movement.

Brown Pelican Chicks
Brown Pelican Chicks, Laughing Gulls looking on

It was a delightful outing and seeing these Pelican chicks was a real treat. This appears to be two sets of chicks, with the younger group testing out their bills in the water.

Brown Pelican Chicks
Brown Pelican Chicks

Brown Pelicans in Flight

Watching Brown Pelicans fly can be mesmorizing. They often glide in small groups along the shore line, gracefully and with what looks like little effort.

Brown Pelicans in Flight
Brown Pelicans in Flight

And with some secret signal they turn in unison.

Brown Pelicans in Flight
Brown Pelicans in Flight

These were taken at the end of the day and there wasn’t much light. This last Pelican was by himself and went right over my head, and yes I wear a hat.

Brown Pelicans in Flight
Brown Pelicans in Flight