The great white giants of the air have returned, like the swallows of Capistrano. The American White Pelicans are back. Returned from their summer and breeding habitat in Central Canada and the Dakotas. They winter around much of the Gulf Coast. We have several hundred this time of year, here in the sounds and bays of Southwest Florida. Often some will find their way to many ponds that dot the neighborhoods a little East of the coast. They must come for a change in diet.
They look like giant dabbling ducks when they forage, sticking their heads and long bills underwater and their butts skyward. The birds pull out a lot of the bottom grasses as they scrounge for small fish and crustaceans. Working along the edges of the pond, the pelicans work together coordinating their efforts corraling their prey.
Did I mention these birds are huge? Having a nine-foot wingspan, they are larger than the Bald Eagle or California Condor. In flight, they seem to soar effortlessly, riding the thermals with their massive black-tipped wings. But when a group is crowded together, foraging in small ponds, things can get interesting. Sometimes, just trying to find a place to put your long orange bill can be a challenge.
I always enjoy an opportunity to photograph these fabulous American White Pelicans. They are majestic birds. But sometimes they tickle me. Their antics can seem somewhat cartoonish and will bring a smile to my face.
For you photographers, my equipment is all Olympus: E-M1markii body with a 300mm f4 and M-C 20 2X Extender for most of the images. Check out my other related post here.