Saturday, September 22, 2007

American Pelican

A wonderful bird is the pelican, His bill can hold more than his beli-can. He can take in his beak Food enough for the week; But I'm damned if I see how the heli-can. Dixon Lanier Merritt

The first rule in birding is never say never when it comes to what a bird will do or where you might find it. At the Falls of the Ohio, we have seen Avocets, Willetts, Black Backed Gulls and now an American Pelican, none of whom belong in this area of the country. Usually, these visitors fly in while trying to outrun a storm in their home territory. I’m not sure where this Pelican came from. We hear regular reports of Pelicans in Western Kentucky, but so far we’ve only seen one at the Falls. According to the Peterson field guide, the American Pelican has a wingspan of 8.5 to 9 feet. I can see a resemblance to a Pterodactyl! I first saw it three weeks ago up by the railroad trestle. This afternoon, I went down to the George Rogers Clark cabin where people reported seeing it all day. At first, it was in the channel that feeds the power plant, too far away to take a picture. One might guess it to be a swan, given the color and shape of the back. But look at that bill - no swan has a bill like that. Then it spread its wings and flew over to our side of the river, just upstream from the cabin. What a photo op! It didn’t seem interested in fishing at one o’clock in the afternoon, but just swam about, then went back to the other side again. I was surprised at how quickly it swam from one side of the river to another. I always enjoy watching the Brown Pelicans along the beach. This one was from Chesapeake Bay, skimming close to the water’s surface. It’s especially great when a group fly in a line. How can any animal so large be so graceful?

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