Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Pelicans are back!

About five years ago I was traveling through the valley with a friend and she said something about her husband being involved in the study of the pelicans on the Yakima River.
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"What?" was my response. I had been commuting daily along this route for a year or two and, quite frankly, I thought she was nuts.
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"Oh, yes," she responded. Because of loss of habitat in some other areas, a number of American White Pelicans were now migrating to the Yakima Valley each spring.
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I was still skeptical, but a few weeks later hubby and I were driving through "the Gap" and there they were: a magnificent flock of about twenty of them, gathered there in the bend of the river. I saw them once again that summer. I was no longer a doubting Thomas.
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The following spring and every year since, I would see some of them at least once every week or so--sometimes one or two, at other times a larger portion of the flock--usually on the river, but at other times you could see them, if you were observant, doing synchronized flying exercises in groups of six to thirty.
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Today was the day of return.


I left this photo large, so you can click to get a better view. I was stretched to the limits of my zoom, so it won't be a nice crisp shot, but you can see a bit more of them.

Now an interesting tidbit from my friend's husband. In doing the study, the scientists attached tracking devices on the bills of some of the males. One unintended result of this was interesting. Apparently, the way that female pelicans can tell the "hunks" in the flock from lesser males is a more predominant hump on top of the bill. So those pelicans with the trackers became the pelican equivalent of the latest heart-throb.
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I am looking forward to seeing more of these visitors whose arrival tells me that spring is indeed here.

4 comments:

June said...

I adore pelicans! I'm lucky to see a lot of them living in Florida. Very interesting facts...thanks!

Paulie said...

The "heart throb " comment is just too funny!

Anonymous said...

This is the 2nd year we have seen the yakima pelcans. I'm boing to post o your tube some pretty neat pictures- Bob in Renton.

Scott Butner said...

They're also up in the Yakima Canyon -- you might enjoy the photos of one of them (a loner) that I took yesterday (Sunday, April 13):

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rs_butner/tags/americanpelican/show/