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Birds of a Feather

07/28/2011

On the way home from work today, I walked by the lake and spotted a visiting flock of white pelicans. I had to walk at a pretty brisk pace to keep up with the swimming birds. There were sixteen altogether, with this little group fishing nearest the shore.

White Pelicans

White pelicans are rarer on the lake than the brown sort, but we’ve been seeing them regularly for a few years. I think this is the most we’ve had in one season in the nine years that we’ve lived by the lake. The first season they came, there were only three. I guess word got out on pelicanexpedia.com.

White pelicans fish white paddling along on the surface, often dipping their bills underwater in unison. It’s pretty cool to watch. Here’s a short video (not mine) of them trolling for food. Brown pelicans, on the other hand, have a more active fishing style, diving from on high with their bills pointed straight into the water. We haven’t had as many brown pelicans as usual during this summer’s migration. One year we had 21.

More Pelicans

I always enjoy watching brown pelicans dive. It’s amazing that they plunge into such a shallow lake. Seems awfully risky to me, but they somehow manage to pull up when they break water. Brown pelicans like to hang out on our piers, along with other resting waterfowl.

Brown Pelicans and Company

One interesting thing about white pelicans is that their wing tips are actually black. You can see that when they fly.

Pelican Flight

I followed the troupe of pelicans into the wildlife sanctuary and noticed that the island foliage there has been radically cut back. Many of the trees had been falling apart, their branches killed off after suffering the ill effects of abundant cormorant scat. You can see the cormorants nesting in the bare branches that remain. Click on the image for a larger view of the scene. Fun fact about cormorants: A group of them is called a “flight.”

Bird Islands

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From → Birds, Oakland

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