Saturday, December 8, 2012


For the last few weeks there has been a squadron of five American White Pelicans at the Gilbert Water Ranch in east Phoenix. Prior to their visit, the only place I'd see White Pelicans in Arizona was at the Tres Rios site, and almost always behind the fenced off area. As such, these goofy birds afforded me some of the best/most close-up looks I've had of American White Pelicans in Arizona. There's something that's already just intrinsically fascinating, ridiculous, and totally awesome about Pelicans. Seeing them in the desert and taking pictures with mesquite trees or other deserty things in the background magnifies this silliness by a factor of three.

Since the Pelicans do not frequently occur at the GWR, I would've expected them to move on pretty soon, but they've been around for a while now, and when I saw them they were acting like they owned the place. These guys must be like the Pelican puritans that left Tres Rios and all of its squalid hedonism to establish a pelicaniform city on a hill out in Gilbert.

Watching these fissiparous birds feeding is great fun. Coastal Pelicans like to dramatically dive-bomb their meals, which always makes for a great show. These Pelicans were not quite as energetic, and instead would just kinda swim around the ponds, then stop, then slowly and with great lassitude, face- plant into the water.


They'd just lay there for a minute, enjoying the experience and no doubt meeting my gaze without the slightest hint of embarrassment at being seen in such a state. Slowly that throat pouch would fill up, and then when it had reached a appropriate capacity, the Pelican would raise its head and strain everything out.

Sometimes, after I've been slouching for a while and/or eating lots of greasy bread-type food, I feel like I have a few rings of chins or a big throat pouch hanging off my face.
Thank you, American White Pelican, for giving me better perspective.

P.S. I would much rather have these birds delivering babies than Storks. Thoughts?