Monday, December 19, 2011

Brown Pelican in the Presidio, Taken by San Francisco Photographers, Bowerbird Photography

    Bowerbird Photography had a family portrait session in the Presidio last Saturday.  The day was gorgeous and sunny.  Sam couldn't resist the opportunity to take some bird portraits.  Here are a collection of photographs taken of a juvenile Brown Pelican, also known as the American brown pelican or common pelican (pelacanus occidentalis).  The juveniles have distinctive brown plumage, while adults have beautiful white necks and crowns - that's how I know this is a youth.  
    Pelicans have suffered the vicissitudes of population decline and recovery throughout the century.  In the early 1900s these birds, without many natural predators, were hunted by man for their beautiful feathers.  While women at that time cut striking figures with elegant (and awesomely outrageous) hats, the  headgear came with a mortal price.  However, in 1918 the Migratory Bird Treaty Act was passed giving some protection to the birds.
    During the First World War, times were tough for all: fisherman killed these birds thinking that they were unfairly poaching on their fish harvests.  Luckily, in recent times, these birds seem to have shed their pariah image. (Other species, like the wolf, have not fared so well, falling victim to farmers and aerial gunners like Sarah Palin.)  In recent memory, the bird was all but decimated with the introduction of that notorious pesticide, DDT.  According to Ariel's parents, who were frequent beach goers in the the 60s, hardly a bird could be seen on the California Coast.  The government took action and the pelican was listed as an endangered species and DDT was banned.  Pelicans made a wonderful comeback, and it's hard to imagine our coasts without them, or how we ever let their populations ebb so low.  However, I think it is important to remain vigilant.  The last two years Brown Pelicans have been dying for unknown reasons.  Their stomachs have contained a different diet from the usual meal of anchovies and sardines, and their feathers have been found coated with a mysterious substance.   (This reminds me of the other odd diseases we hear about in the the news that are striking other species, like the colony collapse disorder affecting bees.)  Nevertheless, the species does not appear in jeopardy of extinction right now, unlike in years passed.
    I am grateful for the opportunity to spend time with these wonderful birds, but it comes with the reminder that we must clean up our act.  I once worked for Northern California River Watch, and personally endorse them as a great, local environmental organization, in case your were wondering who to donate some money to this holiday season :)
    I hope you like these pictures.  Feel free to contact us at, if you are interested in purchasing some prints.  Also, check back the next few days, as I will be posting photographs of different birds I encountered at the Presidio.

What would life be like if your mouth was bigger than your belly?

Alcatraz can just be seen in the background.

  I caught one of the pelicans in flight.

    Love the mohawk!  Or, is that a faux-hawk?  The Pelican is looking out over downtown San Francisco.  This bird looks so fly, and just itching to hit the clubs. 

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