American White Pelican ~ Pelecanus erythrorhynchos

I really enjoyed getting to take these photos. Taking myself out to the Halfbreed National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) Northwest of Billings about 35 miles even less from the tiny High Plains town of Molt. 

 All of these pixs were taken on Aug 13th; The prior Saturday was the Yellowstone Valley Audubon shore bird outing to this location lead by Mike Weber 08.06.11. which is how i was to discover these birds. i’m so glad to be apart of this rich and generous Yellowstone Valley Audubon club.  I’ll slip in a pelican pic here from that previous Saturday (below).

We were treated to a whole lot of gorgeous American White Pelicans however some distance off from them. We just stopped and stared at them for the longest time all the while i’m snaping pix and staring as we get a rare glimpse of White Pelican life. Perhaps you can see the Great Blue Heron ensconsced in front of the White Pelican background ~ all of them preening and being pelicans.  Some you can see have a dark or grayish head which would indicate a juvenile

I wanted to get closer, so i came back and stealthly made it as close as i dared not wanting to scatter them beyond camera view.

i like this pic as it shows how they feed. American White Pelicans don’t dive for food like their cousins the Brown Pelican…they scoop, more or less trolling for appetizing water critters to fill their enormous beaks/pouches.

i was able to get within a 200 yards of this trio from the banks of Halfbreed NWR. i shall do more on ‘Halfbreed’ the area in a separate post but suffice it to say the area has not seen human activity in probably 10 years. Due to above normal amounts of Rain fall these dry refuges have filled up and the birds are loving it.  With the exception of some Canadian Geese on the far shore only White Pelicans were seen.

Sometimes it was only this pair nearest my camera ~ it seemed the young one was exploring on its own, while M ‘n D roamed together most of the time.

And sometimes one of them would come swimmingly close, certainly less than 200 yards, for which my little Canon SX 200 does a decent job of  handling.

one more for the road…

Before i got to the shoreline, or near enough to get decent pix and not disturb them i was treated to a ‘fly-over’.  And i do mean directly overhead … no where else. i took a bunch of photos shooting straight up at 10, 20, 30, birds at a time, ‘kettling’   so to speak ~ round and round from lower as seen here to almost out of sight…then, they all landed in an arm of the Halfbreed lake/refuge all in companion with each other save the 2 that are seen flying in this pic.  This is my current Screen Saver.

There are 7 species of Pelicans world wide and we have two of them. i wish i’d have taken pix of the Brown Pelican to put in here when they were so plentiful in my old home grounds along the shores of the Pacific Ocean.

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