How Do You Like Your Pelicans?

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The classic pelican shows up every year.

If you live a long way from the coast like I do there is no choice. Pelicans come in only the large size and one colour combination – brilliant white with classic black and yellowy orange trim. They come equipped with a standard expandable bill that can hold a whopping three gallons of water and, if the pelican is lucky, a fish. However, their best feature is the ability to spread those high-performance wings and effortlessly float for a country mile. The gas mileage is simply unbeatable.

I think I know all about pelicans. They are a joy to behold.

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This sure looks like a pelican but the colours are all off!

Then I find myself on the California coast looking at a bird that looks a lot like a pelican, floats like a pelican but the colours are all wrong. It appears like this bird got playing in the mud while getting random brushes of paint all over its head and bill. It’s a fascinating display. This model comes with all the standard pelican features though it’s a smaller version with a few sporty features like a propensity to dive bomb a fish for a snack – you have to admire the attitude. I finally got a close encounter with the a brown pelican.

I take it for a spin with my camera and am duly impressed. This pelicanism works in different models. But which one to choose?

It turns out I’m the sentimental sort and pick the classic model I’m used to seeing every year.

And how do you like your pelicans?

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Latest Comments

  1. hannele says:

    I understand why you prefer the classic, familiar one, but since pelicans are very exotic creatures in my eyes, I don’t have that association. They are both amazingly stunning creatures – but I think I have a slight preference for the splashes of paint. What beautiful colour combinations! And, as usual, what incredible photos!

    Like

  2. Scott K Marshall says:

    I cant believe how you placed the head in the cooler backdrop – top notch – I could do with borrowing this for a nature competition we have coming up 🙂

    Like

  3. Noor Elhayat says:

    They look like having Smiley faces too! I can see why you like them! 🙂

    Like

  4. wooclipmovie says:

    I can not say any more

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Christopher Martin says:

    Right on Lyle – super happy that they were working with you! Great flight shots!

    Like

  6. Mandy says:

    What a wonderful bird is the pelican. His beak can hold more than his belly can.
    I’ve never seen a brown pelican so I am also going to vote for the last photo.

    Like

  7. Garden Walk Garden Talk says:

    I love your pelican photos. Just beautiful.

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      Glad to hear that. It was my goal to get a decent brown pelican shot on our trip so I’m so pleased they co-operated. Every once in a while it works out that way.

      Like

  8. pronghornwildlife2 says:

    As with most critters I love ’em all. Great shots Lyle!

    Like

  9. MJF Images says:

    I love them both equally, but especially like seeing them dive-bomb! Great flight photos Lyle!

    Like

  10. Deb W. Trotter says:

    It’s the salt water that makes them brown. 🙂

    Like

  11. Birder's Journey says:

    I love them both! It’s especially wonderful when we have White Pelican visitors, as we have Brown Pelicans all year round. I love the colors of the adult Brown Pelicans, but the size and beauty of the White Pelicans is awesome.

    Like

  12. Mike Powell says:

    I’m a little late to the party, but can’t help but join the emerging consensus for the last shot–the colors, lighting, and details are amazing.

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      That shot brings back wonderful memories of sitting on the rocks on the California coast and enjoying the confluence of a beautiful creature, unusual co-operation from a wildlife subject and excellent lighting. Thanks for joining the party.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Alison says:

    Based on your photos, I say it is too heard to choose. You make both species look equally beautiful. Fantastic shots!

    Like

  14. Dick Trew says:

    I agree wholeheartedly that the last image is spellbinding. It has a ‘carved in relief’ quality that I can’t say I’ve ever noticed in another picture of a bird. Amazing! Thank you for sharing, Lyle. You have a lovely way of inviting your readers/viewers to learn more and enter into your enjoyment of the subject matter! Your blog always gets an ‘Open me first!’ response when I open my mail, reminiscent of the ‘little boy inside me responses’ to during Christmases long past. Thanks for the present!

    Like

  15. Jeff Bell says:

    I am for any pelican that dive bombs. That is one of the coolest hunting techniques in nature. I like the colors on the pelican on the bottom photo.

    Like

  16. Cornell says:

    I like more the classic pelican. 🙂

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  17. lspeng1951 says:

    Lovely photographs with such fine details of the feathers, great captures.

    Like

  18. Dalo 2013 says:

    Boy, that last shot is amazing…don’t you like it when wildlife, every now and then, decides “you know what, I’ll give this photographer a little gift with great lighting and my best smile…” Wonderful.

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      Thanks. I’m still smiling at the incredible co-operation I got from that pelican at just the right moment when the light was so good. I feel blessed to have that opportunity especially given the short time I had on the California coast. Maybe it will happen again …

      Like

  19. Gunta says:

    We have quite a few brown pelicans around here, but I’ve NEVER seen them lit up as nicely as you captured in your last shot. I’m wondering if that orange isn’t something do with breeding plumage. I’m off to see if I can look it up.

    Like

  20. Steve Gingold says:

    Nice shots, Lyle. The last is quite impressive. It was very obliging of the pelican to fly into the light that way and show the brilliance of the colors.

    Like

  21. Susan Portnoy says:

    I love pelicans too! Great post.

    Like

  22. Lavinia Ross says:

    Those are great captures, Lyle! I like them both. Quite the wingspan! The brown pelican looks a bit more prehistoric in that last photo. Remember the Flintstones cartoon Pterodactyl Airlines? 🙂

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      Prehistoric is definitely right and that ties in nicely with the Flintstones. I remember them and the airline very well. Now I’ll never look at that photo the same way!

      Like

  23. De bec et de plumes says:

    I love Pelicans ! I’ve ever seen 5 on the 8 species of the world, and in the wild… but I haven’t seen yet the American specie ! 🙂
    Your last picture is awesome !!!

    Like

    • Lyle Krahn says:

      I just learned that there were eight species while reading up on pelicans for this post. You’ve done well. I would love to be able to see them all. That last photo is quickly turning into one of my favourites.

      Liked by 1 person

  24. David says:

    Great captures. I especially like the very top and very bottom ones. For the bottom one it’s almost as though you had studio lighting.

    Like

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