My Own Private Pelicans


Photo credit: Shon Reed Photography

**Apology** In fact, these are not my own private pelicans they are Shon Reed's. I mistakenly attributed the photo to National Geographic, when in fact, this is one of the stunning collection of nature photos from Shon Reed. Thank you Shon for capturing this image of the pelicans and for freely sharing Your View. Kathy

Big Stone County is the eastern most breeding grounds of the American White Pelican in North America. And we have these majestic birds in abundance. My husband grew up in this county and so is used to seeing the huge, prehistoric looking birds as part of the everyday landscape. But they are unique to this area. From here their breeding grounds range north and west into Canada.

Their wintering area is either 1) the Southern California coast or 2) the Gulf of Mexico. Frankly, noone knows where our Pelicans overwinter. If it is the Gulf, there is a chance that these birds may not be coming back next year in the same numbers due to the impact of the BP Oil Gusher. And some of those that come could be ill.

If you are reading this in Big Stone County- remember to take a good look at the Pelicans this year. Appreciate their gliding, synchronized flight. The way that they land on the water- they slow to a near stop just above the water and then lightly touch down with zero (0) forward momentum. A completely still stop on the water- hardly making a ripple despite their huge size. Look at these ancient creatures- as close to a teradactyl as still roams the earth. Lovely, silent creatures.

We have a flock of Pelicans that circle, low over our farm at least twice a day- morning and night. They live in our south wetland and must feed elsewhere during the day- or visit friends in neighboring sloughs. Sometimes when we are in the garden more will circle over us. Seeming as curious and watchful of us as we are of them. They feel like our own private Pelicans. Godspeed.


Pelicans have always been my favorite bird to watch -- I love the undulating formations they make over the river while canoeing. One thing that has always puzzled me is that many locals (mainly fisherman) often remark to me how "ugly" the birds are. I guess they perceive the bird to be competitors for fish!

Patrick- have you ever unexpectedly had some of them rise up out of a wetland next to you? They are like creatures from the past. The first time it happened to me- I felt I was seeing prehistoric creatures and had the strong urge to protect my kids.

There is something instinctual in us that brings a fear of the unknown- the large- the wild- the prehistoric. That could be where the "ugly" comes from.

We experienced Pelicans while living in Lakefield. They spent time on the North and South Heron Lakes in the Okabena area and also on Spirit Lake in Iowa. It was also enchanting to watch them ride the air currents "way up high in the sky" or a group of them feeding while swimming in line in perfect sync. Bev

Growing up surfing in California I spent many early morning and early evening hours sitting on a surfboard watching pelicans as they would "surf" the air currents coming off of waves as they are about to break. They would glide parallel to and in front of the wave - sometimes with the tips of their wings briefly touching the water - then at the last instant they would lift up and away from the wave as it breaks. Such a beautiful site!

They do have a primeval beauty - almost dinosaur like.

Yes, fisherman and Pelicans-- I remember the unfortunate cases of pelicans that were found with their beaks cut off by some cruel fishermen - left alive to starve to death. Our species ability to inflict wanton cruelty on those animals we deem "competitors" immensely saddens me and is something I can never quite fathom.

Ironic isn't it - that fishermen are now being employed to protect nests and to clean Pelicans in the Gulf.

We have pelicans in Colorado too. They are majestic.

Yes, that is still my photo. Removing my very polite notice to you regarding the mis-credited photo was not the correct decision on your part. I am disappointed.

The original photo can be found at The photo was taken at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Utah. I worked hard to get the photo and will work harder to make sure it stays mine.

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This page contains a single entry by Kathryn Draeger published on July 6, 2010 7:28 AM.

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