FEATURE: An Unmistakable Bird - Brown Pelicans { 85 images } Created 21 Nov 2008

Nearly everyone everywhere on this planet knows this bird. Where pelicans fly there is sun, beach and sea. That many people love him is maybe because he is a kind of a "holiday bird.
His physique is unique - literally unmistakable: the tremendous bill, a big pouch, the compact body with a long neck, short legs and duck feet. A little bit of a clown, but also a beautiful and elegant seabird.

The old Egyptians knew him as a domestic animal, the Indians used him as help by hunting, and the Muslims canonized him because they believe the pelican helped build the Kaaba of Mecca. In our tradition the pelican is a symbol for strong maternal love. The German theologian Prof. Reinitzer collected more than 300 examples in literature and pictures for the symbolic use of the pelican.

The Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) settles the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean, and the Golf Coast of North- and South America. In the late 19th and 20th century pelicans were hunted for their soft feathers to wear them on hats. In the days of hunger, after World War I, thousands were slaughtered. In the 70's the population nearly collapsed because of contamination with DDT. Louisiana was left without Pelicans; a real tragedy since the Brown Pelican is the State Bird of Louisiana. In Texas, California and Florida this pelican was on the list of endangered species. Fortunately, several conservation projects helped them survive.

Worldwide there exist seven pelican species. For us, the Brown Pelican is the real prototype of a pelican. The images cover the everyday life of a group located near St. Petersburg at Indian Shores, Florida: from special behaviour during the breeding season to all kinds of comfort behaviour like yawing, stretching, grooming, bathing, but also aggressive defense patterns and moods too; elegant flights and clumsy landings; the fight for fish and ... the struggle for life at least.
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