Watching a brown pelican in flight, skimming the waves so closely yet without touching them, is a true spectacle, especially when there are four or five of them together. They closely resemble fighter planes flying in V-formation. Indeed, it has been alleged that the aerodynamics of these brown pelicans in flight were taken into consideration when the Japanese were designing their own fighter planes.
The brown pelican is a comically elegant bird, with its oversized elastic beak and long neck. The mature bird has a brown body and white neck and head, but the young pelicans are all brown all over, and little by little, the neck and head become white as they mature.
The brown pelican dives from a height into the sea, the impact stunning the fish before being scooped up in the expandable beak. The beak is not used to store fish, just to catch them, and the water is emptied from the pouch after a catch and the brown pelican then swallows the fish. The young pelicans stick their beaks into their parents’ throats to retrieve regurgitated fish. The brown pelican lives in colonies, nesting on cliffs or on small trees – and which is why there are often a number of brown pelicans in flight seen together.
I love brown pelicans and paint them a lot but they are very smelly! We had one living on our boat at one time and the stink of fish was not attractive at all!