I’m taking a short break in my tales of the Antarctic to bring you a little bit of San Diego’s wildlife. This past weekend I joined some friends in San Diego to explore the abundant birdlife in the area. This is a great time to go visit the Brown pelicans that have changed into the breeding plumage for the next couple weeks. They are quite stunning with the various colors and richness in the reddish-brown skin along their throats and necks. Those with yellow heads and red necks are prime for breeding as shown above. We saw some with white heads and necks and learned that they are considered non-breeding adults, such as in the image below.
We spotted some juveniles in the colony as well. They were easily recognized due to the lack of color change in their feathers around their heads and necks.
It was mostly cloudy both days over the weekend with some rain on the first day, so the light was quite low. Many of the birds spent the morning preening their feathers on the cliff edge.
The way they could contort their heads and necks to reach their backs or under their wings was impressive and allowed me to focus once again on the lines and curves of their bodies in my images.
Even the juveniles were focused on their task to ensure they preened all their feathers.
Occasionally, we caught a pelican stretching before take off. This stretch was quite a process and happened so fast that it was hard to capture the full sequence on camera. The series below are different birds that I was able to photograph in the various stages of the neck pull. In the image below, the pelican begins to stretch its head back and push the extra pouch of skin in its throat forward.
It then lifts its head up and fully stretches the pouch of skin as it cocks its head back. This pouch of extra skin is used for scooping up fish that it catches and then swallows.
As it continues to stretch its head back, the skin pouch begins to cover the head.
Eventually the throat pouch covers most of the pelican’s head before it ends the stretch and returns back to normal. Shortly after this event, we saw each of these pelicans fly away, possibly in search of its morning meal.
I’ll continue to share more about San Diego in the next few posts and I encourage you to go visit these amazing birds if you are in the area!
You can view these images individually in my portfolio located here.