Diving for dinner | May 28
The Vashon Island Audubon birders were aflutter with excitement when four brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) showed up and took turns putting on a diving exhibition at the annual low-tide summer festival. All said it was a first-time sighting for them on Puget Sound. This smallest member of the seven species of the pelican family is on the federal endangered species list for the West Coast. In the summer months the 4-foot-long bird can be found at Grays Harbor; inland sightings are rare. Feeding mainly on herring, they dive straight down from about 30 feet, folding back their wings. You would not want to be a fish when they've got you in their sights. "They're very acrobatic and agile despite looking like something from Jurassic Park," says Lynn Erckmann of the University of Washington Biology Department.
© 2010 The Seattle Times Company