|Photo by Eileen Sullivan|
“A wonderful bird is the pelican,His mouth can hold more than his belly can,
He can hold in his beak
Enough food for a week.
I’m damned if I know how the hell he can!”
|Photo by Skip Hill|
The next photo, taken by Jack Chiles, shows an American White Pelican seen at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge in springtime. Jack notes that the bird is showing the horny knob on the upper mandible displayed by both sexes during the breeding season. These knobs are believed to be a target for other adults when they arrive at the communal breeding grounds and fight for territories, Once eggs are laid, the knobs fall off.
Another interesting aspect of the American White Pelican is their coordinated fishing. They can be seen swimming in one or more lines, “herding” fish into the shallows for an easy catch. Most often found in fresh water, they eat primarily fish and crayfish.
These magnificent birds will be passing through HNWR during the next few weeks on their way to their winter grounds. On the Tuesday Bird Census for October 10, 2017, 1034 American White Pelicans were listed, but only 54 on October 17. There are surely many more to come this Fall!