Three of a Kind - American White Pelicans
Three American White Pelicans (Pelicanus erythrorhynchos) drift silently by on a secluded pond in the river bottoms near Midway, Utah.
I watch and followed a large pod of these beautiful birds for several days as they took up residence in the valley for the spring.
Finally I was able to catch a colony of them on this secluded pond, I thought it was interesting that they had landed on a pond that was not very deep, and as far as I know, contains no fish, but here they were, thinking they were hidden from the world. I watch them for several minutes, then decided I had to get closer to them to get a decent shot.
As I crawled, in full camo, through the muck of the surrounding swamp, trying to keep my camera gear from getting wet, and muddy, I noticed that a small group of them had separated from the main colony and were drifting lazily on the far side of this small pond.
As I got closer the colony began to break up and these three became separated, I took several photographs as I inched my self closer, and closer, finally able to capture this photograph of these stunning birds.
As you can see in the photograph these birds are in their breeding attire, with horned bills, after the breeding season they will lose those horns, and have the smooth bills that we are familiar with.
When you watch large pods of these magnificent birds flying through the air, they look a little ungainly, moving like a large ribbon through the clouds, but when you get two or three of them they can fly amazingly fast, and agile, flying in perfect unison, great white birds with black flight feathers, with orange bills, and feet, what a majestic bird they are.
Many birds have brown, and black eyes, some have red, and some gold or yellow, these birds have beautiful pale blue eyes, surrounded by orange.
One quick story about a white American pelican, one day one of my sons, and I were walking through the fields near the fish hatchery, my son noticed this gigantic white bird standing alone in the field, and asked me what it was, I told him it was a pelican, and suggested we see if we could get closer, as we walked up on the bird, it just waddled away from us, my dog, filled with curiosity rushed the bird, I thought surely it would be gone, but nope, each time my dog would get close it would snap at the dog, I thought my black lab was going to end up pelican lunch, it started to move away again until it reached a small irrigation ditch. It jumped in the ditch, which at the time had no water in it.
I walked up on the pelican to find out what was wrong with it, as I reached for it, of course it tried to defend itself by biting at me, I took a stick expecting it to latch onto the stick and then I could pick it up, nope, they don't latch onto anything, just open and close their large bills.
I managed to get my hands around it's bill, which as it turns out is kind of rubbery feeling, with two large bows for the bottom jaw, I am guessing so they can expand it to catch fish, and a mouth full of water. These birds are larger than they appear, and heavy, this one had a wounded wing, turns out the fish hatchery had shot it, to keep it, and others from eating all of the fish.
What a treat though to actually handle one of these live and in the wild.
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T L Mair
Fine Art Photography