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White pelicans cruising the skies above the Delta

White pelicans cruising the skies above the Delta. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
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I have returned to Holland tract area and have included perhaps too many pictures of White Pelicans. About 100 or so are out there now fishing the center shoals or shallow areas of sloughs. They rest out on the remote island among the sand hills and geese as the boat traffic seems to drive them nuts. They must be doing okay looking at their bellies, I have always been intrigued by these magnificent flying monsters.

Snow geese and white fronted geese are filling the skies out there, staying high and above my camera understandably as the occasional shotgun blast can be heard.
Dave Harper, Oakley, California

The Sacramento River Delta is a wonderful place, especially if you like to watch birds, river otters, beavers, mink and who-knows-what-else.

Ah, yes. Those “occasional shotgun blasts.” Duck season. I’d fly as high as I could, too! Great photos, my friend! /Gary

White pelicans cruising the skies above the Delta. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
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Posted on Thursday, January 12th, 2012
Under: White Pelican | 2 Comments »

White pelicans a beautiful sight around the Bay

White pelican. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
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The American white pelican is one of my favorite birds. It’s amazing to watch them paddling along in the water, searching for fish. When they spot their prey, they open their enormous beaks, scoop up several gallons of water (and the fish!), let the water drain from their beaks (actually from the very elastic skin in the bottom of their beaks that stretches into a huge “balloon” to hold the water), then tip their heads back and swallow their wiggling meal. An unusual fishing technique, to say the least.

Years ago when I was curator of the Lindsay Wildlife Museum in Walnut Creek, CA, our wildlife rescue center got in an injured (bruised wing kept it from flying) white pelican. It was such a character. Totally unafraid of humans, it would stand a few feet away from me and play catch with a paper ball. I’d toss it the ball, it would catch it in the very tip of its huge beak and then flip it back to me in one quick move. He definitely could have been drafted by the Giants (2nd base?) if they’d have been willing to pay him off in fish. We released him back into the wild a few weeks later after his wing had healed.

White pelicans, often spotted here and there, flying above or standing in the marshlands around the Bay and in the Delta,  are beautiful as they sail above you, their white bodies outlined against the blue sky. I especially enjoy Dave Harper’s dramatic photographs. Thanks, Dave. /Gary

White pelicans sailing above the Bay. Photo by Dave Harper, Oakley, CA
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Posted on Thursday, July 21st, 2011
Under: Pelicans, White Pelican | No Comments »