Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

Brown Pelican

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Hrm, maybe I can see better if I tilt my head like this?

A brown pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, tries digiscoping at the Port Aransas Birding Center, Texas.

Image: Scott Lewis [MUCH larger view].


  1. #1 Elf Eye
    December 1, 2007

    Whenever I see pelicans in flight, they make me feel as if I have been transported back to an ancient era. They look so _primordial_ to me. I can’t really pin my finger on what it is that makes me feel as if pelicans are out of place against a modern backdrop of ferries and piers. Perhaps it is that they look so ungainly as they lumber along. Does anyone else have this reaction to pelicans? Or does anyone else have that feeling about some other bird?

  2. #2 "GrrlScientist"
    December 1, 2007

    i feel the same way about great blue herons in flight; they make me think that the pterosaurs might have flight like they do.

  3. #3 hypatia
    December 1, 2007

    Local birders (west coast FL, St. Pete area) have called brown pelicans as “pterodactyls” since I’ve been birding (mid 80’s). In the oil spill of 1993, I came to know them in their time of great need, and to admire them more than I can say. When you are driving one of the bridges here and see one sailing the small updraft along the outer edge of the bridge, delicately twitching each of the 10 primary feathers in response to small changes in the air flow, I (and you should be) am gobsmacked. These are stupendously adept birds.

  4. #4 Bob O'H
    December 2, 2007

    I know what Elf Eye means. But I’d like to put a word in for spoonbills in flight. They just look silly, especially from right under them.


  5. #5 Bob O'H
    December 2, 2007

    Oh, forgot to mention – that’s a great photo!


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