Before the Plunge

Brown Pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) fly low over the waves along the Mendocino Coast in single file with one straggler, flapping and gliding in unison. Their feeding behavior is spectacular, as they plunge headlong into the water in pursuit of fish.

Technical Details

Composite: No
EF 70-200mm @ 70mm; f/8 @ 1/1250 sec, ISO 400

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I like watching the Ospreys dive too. :slight_smile:

I love the tight formation. White pelicans come to the Great Lakes and one time I was on my dock when a flock of about 50 went overhead. I’m on the Wisconsin river 2-3 hours from Lake Michigan or Superior where I’m sure they were headed. Of course me without my camera. What’s going on with the lead bird? Leg stretch?

Thank you Ms. Smith. What you see is the extended tip of the left wing. The greater portion of that wing is obscured by the bird’s body.

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Thank you Brett.
The eight living pelican species were traditionally divided into two groups, one containing four ground-nesters with mainly white adult plumage, and one containing four grey- or brown-plumaged species which nest preferentially in trees.
The American brown pelican usually plunge-dives head-first for its prey, from a height as great as 10–20 m (33–66 ft), especially for anchovies and menhaden. The only other pelican to feed using a similar technique is the Peruvian pelican, but its dives are typically from a lower height than the brown pelican.
The Australian and American white pelicans may feed by low plunge-dives landing feet-first and then scooping up the prey with the beak, but they—as well as the remaining pelican species—primarily feed while swimming on the water. Aquatic prey is most commonly taken at or near the water surface.
Raptors tend to plunge feet first as their capture technique is with their talons, something that pelicans do not have. In the case of Osprey, they are the only raptor that plunges head first, but with their feet aligned along each side of their head.

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