Monday, April 11, 2011

These Birds Can't Read

Here are a few photos I took last week.

Fishing?  Who's fishing?  We don't see no one fishing."
The first one is of American White Pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) at San Pablo Reservoir, near Orinda, CA, USA.  I was sure surprised to see them here.  I thought pelicans only lived around salt water, but according to the Cornell University website All About Birds, they breed on inland lakes and return to the sea for the winter.  The strange flat protrusion on the top of their bills is called a 'horn' and grows on each year before breeding season.   After they breed, it drops off and the bill has a more normal shape.  If you can call anything about a pelican bill 'normal'.

This photo reminds of one of my favorite limericks, by Dixon Lanier Merritt:

What a wonderful bird is the pelican,
His beak can hold more than his bellican.
  He can hold in his beak
  Enough food for a week,
But I'll be darned if I know how the hellican.

"Rules don't apply to me."
This second photo is of an American Coot (Fulica americana) in Lake Anza inTilden Park, near Berkeley, CA, USA.  The coots are strange birds.  They run on the water for 20 to 30 meters when trying to get airborne.  And they make some of the strangest calls of any waterfowl, a very unique screechy-clicky sound.  This guy is completely ignoring the "no swimming / no wading" buoy.

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