Big Bird's Cousins

December 16, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Along with the arrival of Big Bird came its close relatives ... The American White Pelican. Unlike Big Bird, they come and go so quietly that it seems like magic. We'll turn around and find that a group of them has arrived without fanfare. And, then, we'll turn back to the action; turn around again and poof ... They're gone. My friend, Mike has nicknamed them "White Ghosts" because of this sudden appearance/disappearance skill. 

The White's are much larger then Big Bird (the California Brown Pelican) and because of this, they can't dive for their food as Big Bird does.  So, most often, they work together fishing for food as a group. It seems like they "herd" the fish to shallow waters where it is easier to capture them.  Like their cousins, they do not vocalize amongst themselves. 

These birds with their large wings discovered long ago the aerodynamic concept of "Ground Effect". In flying close to the water, a cushion of air builds up under the wing that allows the bird to stay aloft with a minimum of effort.  It is much more efficient than flying higher and having to expend more energy by flapping their wings.  BTW, pilots discover this effect when they attempt to land an airplane the first time. All of a sudden, the touchdown point is further down the runway than expected as the descent rate dramatically slows when the plane gets close to the ground.

Here's one of the White Ghosts sneaking in at dawn:

 

I'm sure you've heard the phrase  "Get all your ducks lined up"  ... but I bet you've never thought about getting your pelican's lined up! 

 

This guy came flying right over my head.  Can you get an idea about his size? Its wingspan is about 9 feet ... yes, that's nine feet!

 

This seven image sequence of two white pelicans departing is unusual in that their wing flaps are synchronized through the entire take-off.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

They reached flying speed ...off they go into the sunrise!

 

I used to think about the freedom birds have that is inherent in their capability to fly, but as you can see flight doesn't come without a lot of effort.  And it is particularly true for larger birds.  Effort means more energy required which in turn means more food needed.  It is a cycle that exists for humans, too, but one we don't think much about in today's modern society!

I hope you enjoyed this view of Big Bird's cousins. 

And, of course, thanks for taking the time to look.

 

Adam

P.S. The images look much better enlarged. Just click on one ... you'll see!

P.P.S.  If you ever want comment, you can just click on the button below or, of course, send me an email.


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