We’re Living the Tweet Life: January

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Brown pelican (Limosa fedoa)

By Jan Baumgartner

Known for its distinctive pouched bill and portly stance, the brown pelican is one of Florida’s largest seabirds. With a span of 6 to 8 feet, powerful wings propel the pelican as high as 60 feet above water before executing a daring high-dive to catch fish below the surface.
When this behemoth hits the water at 40 mph, you may wonder how it could possibly survive such a dangerous feat. The pelican’s signature twist-to-the-left arc during its near-vertical dive protects its eyes and windpipe from being crushed by the head-on impact with the water.
The pelican’s pouch expands like a parachute under water not only to slow the bird’s descent but also to trap the tasty fish spotted from high overhead.

When they are not plunging in high dive fashion, groups of brown pelicans are often observed to glide gracefully, low and slow, in single-file lines just above the waves.
They are highly social birds in breeding in colonies that can number in the thousands of pairs. A pair may build their nest on the ground using a simple scrape technique or in a tree using sticks.
Either way, the male gathers the nesting materials while the female constructs the nest for a clutch of two to four eggs.

Jan Baumgartner’s handmade notecards are available at Sunshine & Sand Hidden Treasures, 6635 Midnight Pass Rd., in Crescent Plaza.

Jan Baumgartner
Author: Jan Baumgartner

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