Pelican Spring

An American white pelican comes in for a landing on the St. Louis River, MN. The bump on its bill denotes that it’s a breeding bird. The bump falls off after the birds have mated and laid eggs.

Last week I took the long way home from work. My route took me past Chambers Grove Park, which is in the far western part of Duluth, along the St. Louis River. I had heard that the pelicans were back, resting there on a stopover during their migration north, and I wanted to see them.

I brought my camera in case the birds were close enough for me to photograph. Alas, the experience reinforced my thought that I really need to buy a more powerful telephoto lens! Also, the light was right in my face, harsh and white, fading out everything on the far side of the river where the pelicans rested.

Luckily, a few were flying around, and I was able to get at least one good shot.

According to the Duluth News Tribune, pelicans were “virtually unseen in Minnesota between the late 1800s and 1960s. Fishermen destroyed them out of the erroneous belief that they competed for game fish, and pesticides took a toll.” They mostly prefer nongame fish and do not compete with anglers.

No pelicans in this shot (but they are nearby). I just liked the cloud and water patterns. St. Louis River, MN.

Thanks to environmental reforms and protection, their numbers have recovered. Minnesota boasts one of the largest populations of nesting white pelicans in the world. I thought I’d share my photos from my sojourn with you.

If you’d like to see some better, close-up images of the birds, please visit Richard Hoeg’s blog, “365 Days of Birds” for some great shots.

Despite the snow we’ve been having lately, their presence is a sure sign that spring is coming.

9 thoughts on “Pelican Spring

    • Oh wow. I would think there would be some brown pelicans around Cape Cod, but maybe they are farther south. They are a sight to see — so prehistoric yet majestic. Neil, I guess you’ll just have to come to MN to see some!

  1. Your photos are beautiful. How sad that some people felt it was okay to kill pelicans because they wanted to keep them from eating fish that they wanted to catch. What arrogance.

  2. You did quite well with the camera you had, Marie. Catching a good one in flight is not easy. I am happy that they are nesting in your area. They are such gentle creatures and always make me smile as they bob along or swoop down for a fish. I confess I did not know about that bump! Both photos are good.

    • Thank you! Yes, I am rather proud of catching one in flight. And did you know that a pelican’s beak pouch can hold more fish than their stomachs can fit? I wonder how that works? Imagine if our mouths were like that. Talk about an obesity epidemic! Ha ha.

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