It’s been a slow week for the birding community, so I thought I would talk about one of the most common birds around, the brown pelican. The brown pelican is a long-lived bird, with a life span of 30 – 35 years. Its primary food source is fish. That big ole’ bill can hold 4.5 pounds of fish at one time!! The average pelican will eat 4 – 4.25 pounds of fish a day. That puts the Gulf of California hard at work producing all that fish, because there are a lot of pelicans around.
The pelican dives at speeds of 60 mph (100 kmh) on the average dive, and they have air pockets in their heads to soften the repeated shocks of a lifetime of diving for fish. The brown pelican in the Western states develop a yellow buffy head, along with a red area around the mouth during breeding season. The East coast birds lack this color change, even though they are both brown pelicans.
OK…enough about pelicans. On a fishing trip this week I continued to see Eared or Horned grebes, and PJ my fishing partner spotted a red-billed tropicbird, who is hanging around a lot later than usual. We also still saw the Wilson Phalaropes on the open water.
I am seeing a lot more Turkey Vultures in the area. The winter birds are moving in to keep things cleaned up. There are still no ducks, but I believe they will be here soon. I did have a Pyrrhuloxia at the feeder in the yard, but he didn’t feed — he only had a drink from my fountain. That leads me to think it is really getting dry out there and you need to keep your water features filled up for our feathered friends.
Happy Birding! by Dave Verner. Photo by E.(Lizzy) Rothwell.