Sunday, April 13, 2014

Pelicans and Wing-spreading Posture

This morning there were several groups of American white pelicans resting on or near sandbars near the west end of Lake Byllesby, near Randolph, Minn. They were far enough out that we needed the spotting scope or a strong camera zoom to really see what was going on.

What appeared at first glance to be one large bird (above) turned out to be two (below).

An American white pelican's enormous wings, with a span of  roughly 8 to 9 feet, are one of the most beautiful sights in birddom. A couple of the birds today were holding their wings outspread in the behavior we've also seen in vultures and cormorants. It may be done to dry feathers; it may be to absorb warmth (thermoregulation); or perhaps other reasons. See, e.g., Whatever the reason, we saw a nice demonstration of it today. This is a gorgeous display of the black tips on the otherwise white wings of an American white pelican.

There is a good overview of American white pelicans and both their historical and recent presence in Minnesota, where it is a "species of special concern," here.

1 comment:

Ela said...

Great photos of pelicans.
These are gorgeous birds.