Thursday, June 23, 2016

Pelican (Brief)

[The title is an acknowledgment that this is one of my shortest blog posts, and has nothing to do with the movie or book “The Pelican Brief.”]

I've written before about how I enjoy watching the large brown pelicans down here cruising on the air currents, watching for fish in the ocean below, and then dive bombing to catch a meal. After they strike the water, they bob back to the surface, tilt their heads backwards, and swallow their fish. Then these large birds flap their wide wings and take off from the water for another dive bombing mission.

Recently, some of the boys told me they saw a pelican nest on L'islet, the isolated peninsula that juts into the ocean between our two beaches, and which can only be accessed by scaling a rocky cliff. I knew I wanted to check out this unusual opportunity, so after school I followed them up the cliff and across the trail to the outer edge of this peninsula.

There was a large nest made from sticks in the upper branches of a tree. I was able to climb up an adjacent tree and get some pictures of the two babies sitting in the middle of the big nest (nearly a yard wide—the picture below shows a view of the nest from the ground). Unlike adult pelicans, their beaks were rather short—I guess it isn't easy to fit a long pelican beak inside an egg.
About a week later, we made another trip up to the nest to see how they were doing. They seemed to be about a foot tall. This time, they weren't sitting in the middle of the nest. They had ventured out to the edge of the sturdy nest. In the picture below, you can see that one is looking directly at me, while the other can be seen in full profile.
I'm headed back to the U.S. for a brief “mid-term” visit, so I will have to check back on these young pelicans when I return. I will be speaking at the Parkersburg-Wood County Library on June 28 at 5:00 PM and at the WVU Mountainlair in Morgantown on June 30 at 6:00 PM. Come out and see me if you are interested!

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