Friday, August 10, 2012

Pic of the Day

     White Pelican,  Pelecanus erythrorhynchos – Bear River Migratory Bird Sanctuary; Brigham, Utah:  I saw my first white pelican in Everglades National Park in March, 1979. In the early morning pre dawn hour the pelicans began to take flight two and three at a time and began to form a large flock in the sky.  As the first birds rose they began to circle, rotating and spiraling higher and higher into the sky.  As more birds took flight the flock grew to more than a hundred birds.  As the morning air heats the pelicans continue to ride the thermals, once high enough they soared off to various areas to feed.  It was an amazing sight to see.  I have never forgot that moment and perhaps that is why I am always so thrilled to see these giants.
     White pelican nest from Utah, north to Northwest Territory, but come fall, they head south and winter from Texas, east to Florida.  The whites are huge, out sizing the familiar brown pelican by as much as a foot in length and two feet in wingspan.  Every time I see a white pelican I am awed by their size. 
     Unlike the brown pelican that flies over the water and dives to catch its prey, the white pelican gathers in flocks and work together on their feeding grounds.  The birds form a buffer line and herd their prey into shallow water where they scoop them up.  This group of white pelicans was doing just that. I found this flock while driving around the amazing Bear River Migratory Bird Sanctuary just east of Brigham, Utah.  The image was shot late in the day as   the setting sun turned the mountains a beautiful magenta that reflected in the water.  The colorful setting provided the perfect backdrop for the white pelicans.

Nikon D7000, Nikkor 500mm f4, 1/1,600 sec. @ f9

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