Pelican fly-by

Last night, a bit before 7, J and I had just sat down for dinner when J got a work phone-call. I continued twirling my spaghetti, took a mouthful and gazed dreamily out the window. Our fourth floor, kitchen/dining room window faces north toward a narrow strip of mixed-deciduous-coniferous forest, followed by a strip of tall, downtown buildings and a wide top strip of sky (which was then grey). The Saskatchewan River is hidden in a valley between the trees and the skyscrapers.

A small group of mostly-white-with-a-bit-of-black birds appeared in the sky. Not quite gulls… Pelicans! I ran to the bedroom, grabbed my camera and when I returned to the window, the pelicans were still in my window-sky.

For some reason, they stayed in the vicinity of my apartment building for about 4 minutes. I saw the group fly in a few tight circles, so maybe they were spiralling up on air drafts?


The last two photos were taken from my balcony while the others were taken through my kitchen/dining room window. For the last photo, I leaned out over the porch railing as the pelican flew overhead. I included two short flight sequences; I found them fun to speed-click through in slideshow mode.

American White Pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) are not commonly seen in Edmonton, but they do breed in some of the cities wetlands [1]. Breeding adults, both males and females, grow a “horn” on their upper bill, which can be seen in one of the five pelicans I photographed. When mating and egg-laying are complete, the birds shed this “horn” [2]. Pelicans are large birds with wingspans of up to 3 metres [1]. Their black feathers can only be seen in flight [1].

[1] https://natureedmonton.wordpress.com/2012/06/20/the-american-white-pelican/
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_white_pelican

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10 Comments

  1. Great shots! Pelicans are some of my favorite birds. We actually have the white variety in New Mexico. Always astonishes me to see them in the desert 😊

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  2. How neat!! Nothing beats seeing interesting birds from your very own house. 🙂 Still waiting to see my first pelican myself.

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    1. There is something extra special about seeing a new bird species at home! 😊Hope you get to see a pelican. I wonder if they hang out anywhere on Vancouver Island…

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      1. funnily, there have been some spotted recently, though they are rare here, but I have not had luck seeing them yet!

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  3. How cool to see pelicans! Something we don’t have in Fresno, California! 😊

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  4. Que j’aime les pélicans ! Parmi mes oiseaux préférés ! Super photos ! 🙂

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  5. How exciting a dinner show! I love the White Pelicans. We get some down here for winter. I’ve only seen them with the mating horn one Spring when I went up to Oregon looking for Dancing Grebes.

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  6. I just had a similar siting of white pelicans at a Marsh, yesterday. They are so pleasant to observe. I’m glad you had such a wonderful siting, Miriam.

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  7. I‘m glad you had a chance to see the pelicans, Myriam! 🙂
    I didn‘t know about the breeding ,,horn‘‘. Such an interesting fact!

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  8. You were lucky indeed, and to think all it took was spaghetti to bring them in! 😉
    Seriously, I’m glad you raced for the camera. They’re fun pictures, and informative – I noticed the horn, wondered, read your text, and learned! I love pelicans! Wonderful.

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