A Wonderful Bird…

Brown Pelican, Oceanside, California December 2015

Two years ago this month the Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) became the official bird of St. Petersburg, Florida. The action was long overdue, since the large avian had been used as a mascot for the city for close to 100 years.

I am fortunate to be able to watch their aerial stunts year-round from my favorite perch at nearby John’s Pass (the channel between the Gulf of Mexico and Boca Ciega Bay).

I see their larger cousins, American White Pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) less often as they are true snowbirds, spending their winters on our balmy barrier islands before returning north in the Spring.

The adult males are especially eye-catching this time of year as breeding season begins. I need to take my camera out and try to get some good shots of them, until then this older photo I took in California will suffice.

Without fail, every time I see them I think of this limerick:

A wonderful bird is the pelican,

His bill will hold more than his belican,

He can take in his beak,

Enough food for a week,

But I’m damned if I see how the helican!

Dixon Lanier Merritt

Categories: Nature Notes


  1. I used to love driving over the causeway that links St. Pete to Tampa and the Pelicans would fly right alongside…very Florida.

    Liked by 1 person

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