While in Montanito, an Ecuadorian told me his family rescued an injured pelican who became a household friend and would rush to greet them when they came home. He was something of a “Watch Pelican”. When strangers came by he would stretch out his four foot wings, inflate his throat and try to seem menacing. When it was clear the stranger was OK he would then act friendly. The Pelican was ultimately given to a bird sanctuary because it was too expensive – it ate 12 pounds of fish a week.
Pelicans have long made self-interested friends with fishermen. Recognizing their amigos and landing on their boats everyday hoping for a gift fish or two. Don’t underestimate animal intelligence and empathy. I’m posting a couple photos of a pelican and dog who were best friends. The Pelican is feeding his friend, the dog, like it were a chick.
I love to watch the friendly flocks of pelicans on Ecuador’s shore cruise above the waves then hurtle into the ocean, wings swept back at the last moment, like dino jet planes, plugging into the sea for fish. They pop up looking accomplished, masters of working together. A single flashing beak is easy for fish to avoid. But 12 or 15 at once create confusion and the fish are easy meals.
Brown Pelicans are a success story. In the 20’s they were facing extermination due to pesticides running off into the water. But now they are flourishing and spreading once again. Pesticide controls can work!
Interestingly, pelicans hold a fish in their pouch, tilt their head down to drain away the sea water, then flip the fish up to swallow it whole. A great system for the pelicans. A bad system for the fish.
Posting a few photos and following up with a heartbreaking shot after the BP oil spill.