Whenever I go to the beach to see shorebirds or loons, I check to see if the Brown Pelicans are there, too, because they have long fascinated me, long before I took up birdwatching in recent years.

 Brown Pelican

I can vaguely remember first seeing pelicans while fishing on Puget Sound or at the ocean as a child. Perhaps that’s part of the reason they seem so ancient to me, though more likely it’s their resemblance to pterodactyls that conveys that impression to me.

For whatever reason, they have always seemed nearly as ancient as the sea itself, and that impression seems to be supported by science. Wikipedia notes that “The fossil record shows that the pelican lineage has existed for at least 30 million years; the oldest known pelican fossil was found in Early Oligocene deposits at the Luberon in southeastern France and is remarkably similar to modern forms. Its beak is almost complete and is morphologically identical to that of present day pelicans, showing that this advanced feeding apparatus was already in existence at the time.”


I’m still not sure what inspired this composition, perhaps just the purchase of onOne’s Perfect Photo Suite 8.5, but this seems to be how I see Pelicans in my mind’s eye, emerging from some dark, prehistoric past.