Brown Pelican

C Fi 9963

“A wonderful bird is the pelican.

His beak can hold more than his belly can.

He can hold in his beak enough food for a week.

But I’ll be damned if I can see how the helican."

While this limerick, written by Dixon Lanier Merritt in 1910, is amusing, it isn’t accurate. In reality, pelicans use their gular pouches as a means of capturing food—not as a place to keep it tucked away for extended periods.

Two types of pelicans live in Sarasota. The permanent resident Brown Pelicans, and the seasonal White Pelicans. They are very different not only in color but in size and habits. The White Pelican winters in Florida from northern lakes. It is an impressive bird indigenous to North America, standing around 4 feet tall and sporting a 9-foot wingspan. Every year, something weird happens to the adults. Breeding season for American white pelicans lasts from late March to early May. When it arrives, a broad, flat, yellow or orange “horn” appears on the upper bills of sexually mature birds (both male and female). At some point in May, the fibrous structures fall off, to be replaced with brand new ones the following season.

The White Pelican also hunts in a squadron, where they wade and bob in a circle, then close the circle to capture and scoop. This makes them very different than the lone hunter and dramatic diver... the Brown Pelican.

A group of pelicans is called a pod, brief, pouch, scoop or a squadron. Male and female pelicans share in the building of the nest and in the incubating of the eggs. The male selects the nesting site, collects the sticks, feathers, leaves and other debris and the female builds the nest and both the male and female share the responsibility of standing on the eggs to incubate them.

The earliest pelican fossil on record is a 30-million-year-old skull that was found in the Oligocene deposits of France. Paleontologists have also uncovered younger material from places like Germany, India, Kenya, Peru, Australia, and North Carolina. Today, there are eight living species and you can find some combination of them dwelling on every continent except Antarctica.

Pelicans don't eat just fish... In 2006, Londoners were shocked when a pigeon was swallowed whole by a great white pelican in front of some horrified kids at St. James's Park. Attacks like that aren’t unusual: Although pelicans specialize in eating fish, they also prey on crustaceans, amphibians, turtles, and—yes—other birds. If it can fit down their throats, it’s fair game.


Bridget Lyons

Bridget Lyons is a Florida Artist who focuses on colors and contrast in her paintings. That love of color has become a staple in her choices for street painting, although, she has pushed her range and begun to explore black and white images. Over the years, she has moved from flat, bright images to develop her passion for colors and just how far she can push the limits. Her style continues to evolve in street painting, by her mixed use of carefully selected reproductions and inspired original pieces. Aside from street painting, She also enjoys photography and painting in acrylics.