Kelp Forest – Pelican
Nature of America
Issue Date: October 1, 2009
City: Monterey, CA
Soaring some 30 feet above the water, the brown pelican scans the kelp forest in search of food. Dropping into a dive, he plunges head first into the water and uses his pouch to scoop up three gallons of water and anchovies. Surfacing, the brown pelican tosses its head back and swallows the fish whole.
Taking flight, the male pelican flies to the nearby island, where his mate is waiting on their nest. The female is standing on two eggs, using her webbed feet to keep the eggs warm. As the male bird swoops into the nest to take his turn incubating the eggs, the female flies off in search of food.
Thirty days pass and the eggs are hatching. Blind and featherless, the two chicks are totally reliant on their parents for care. The parents will take turns feeding the newborns, keeping them warm, and protecting them from predators.
It has been twelve weeks since the two brown pelicans hatched. Their feathers have filled in and the birds are able to fly. They have left the nest and joined with a group of five other young pelicans. These are social birds, and the group hunts together in the shallows. Circling the kelp forest, the next generation of brown pelicans perfects the skill of diving for food.