These massive birds had started showing up over the last couple of weeks in the Denver metro area and sometime over the past week they arrived at this lake on the plains to the northeast.
They spend their winters along the Gulf Coast and southern Pacific Coast so they had a bit of a journey to get to their summer home here. These birds are a big goofy looking but when in flight they are amazingly graceful.
Yesterday I took a detour on the way home through Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. Being mid-afternoon I didn’t expect to find much action – and I didn’t. However, I did get to witness as massive American White Pelican pod as it circled overhead. There were at least 50 of these massive birds flying around, likely heading south for the winter.
Scroll down for more images of this gathering.
These very large birds are some of the most graceful fliers in the skies. Whether pumping those massive wings to get into the air or with them fully extended and gliding just above the water’s surface, they are a thing of beauty to watch.
This pair was part of a larger pod at a lake in northeastern Colorado this past week that I spent some time observing. After a while they decided it was time to move on and took to the air, almost perfectly in sync.
With its wings slightly raised to help cool itself in the warm morning sun, an American White Pelican keeps close watch for its breakfast. This very handsome bird was part of a larger pod of 10 or so pelicans that were patrolling the waters of Jackson Lake State Park, Colorado.
During the summer you can find these large birds on many of the bodies of water in northeastern Colorado.
This past weekend there were a lot of these graceful fliers where we camped and they provided plenty of entertainment. This particular ??pelican?’s gray head can’t help but make me feel like it was an older one although nothing I can find says the color means anything. I guess I’ll just pretend it was an old veteran. 😉
This almost looks like one image that was mirrored in half. In is however two separate American White #Pelicans that were facing opposite directions and happened to stick their heads under water fishing at the same moment. The pair was part of a larger pod of nine that had gathered to fish a small pond in Thornton, Colorado recently.
These massive birds are a lot of fun to observe and are extraordinarily graceful when in flight. This particular pelican was fishing in a small pond when it decided it was time to try a different location.
Taking the picture was a bit difficult as I was shooting in the direction the sun but that direct light also did a nice job of illuminating the water drops coming off the bird.
Taken in Longmont, Colorado on May 17, 2015.
An American White Pelican displays its fishing technique. These large birds dips their bills, scooping up water in the pouch. They then strain the water with the hopes that there will have caught a fish unaware. This particular pelican was fishing alone on this day but oftentimes they will do so in groups, lining themselves up and driving fish in front of them.
An interesting thing about those pouches is that they also help to cool these massive birds. Pelicans can overheat in the sun and will flutter the pouches in the air. All of those blood vessels help to allow heat to escape. Taken in Thornton, Colorado. ?
I captured this pic of an American White Pelican on its way to a water landing in a nearby pond last week. My wife is absolutely fascinated with these birds and I really can’t blame her (although I do think raptors are far cooler!). Pelicans have so much character, are absolutely beautiful and despite their massive size, are amazingly graceful in flight.
Trying to get nine of any living thing to cooperate for a nice photo is tough. Directing nine American White Pelicans to line up for a photo proved to be impossible. 😉
Despite their unwillingness to hold their heads high all at once and pose, these massive birds did provide a great deal of entertainment as they fished in a small pond. This pod worked together, circling the pond while in a cluster, driving the fish and making them easier to catch.
Taken in Adams County, Colorado.