White Pelicans at Bear River

White Pelicans are another bird I have to cross the Cascades to find. Along with the Night Heron shown earlier, I was greeted by this small group of White Pelicans when I arrived at Bear River before the gates actually opened.

I thought they looked quite elegant in the early morning light, preening before catching a morning breakfast.


On the other hand, the group at the same spot later in the day looked a little scruffy,


particularly since they had been joined by two even less reputable vagabonds.

Shouldn’t they have been out helping this large flock of Pelicans out on the pond herd their breakfast up? (Or, perhaps that impression was just created by two very different kinds of light, though.)


Of course, I finally learned what the pelicans were doing last year when I read that, unlike the more familiar Brown Pelicans, White Pelicans don’t dive and catch fish. Instead, they often herd them into a limited area as a flock and then feed on them.

Interesting fact, but it certainly raised new questions for me when I gave it further thought. Do Pelicans pair off to raise young? If so, do they rejoin a flock to feed, or do they use a different means of catching food?

This looked like a “pair,” but I also read that breeding Pelicans had a special bump on their beak, and neither of these do. (Further Googling suggests that breeding pairs may have already lost that “bump” on their beak by this time of year, though they should still be on the nest if they had mated.)


I am initially drawn to birds by their beauty, but the more I observe them the more curious I become about them. White Pelicans are certainly no exception to that rule.