Friday, February 24, 2017

California Brown Pelican II

I started out with this being a post about the blue-footed booby. I thought I'd seen one mingling among the brown pelicans and gulls on the sea rocks of Puerto Penasco, Mexico on the Gulf of California. As I went through my pictures I saw a picture of a large bird I'd thought was a pelican, but then determined must be a blue-footed booby because its coloring was so much different than the other brown pelicans on the rocks. After second thoughts, I've re-determined that the bird I thought was a blue-footed booby was an immature California brown pelican, a subspecies of the brown pelican.
Here is the bird I though was a blue-footed booby, doing contortions with its head.
In looking through my pictures further, I found a picture of this pelican with other pelicans.
The pelican to the bottom right is the same one in the picture above. Note that it has a white breast, and a dark brown upper body and is missing the yellow crown, unlike the other pelicans that are left of it. 
Here is a cropped picture which isolates it. 
One of the tricky things about identifying birds is that immature birds often look completely different than mature birds and mature birds during mating season often look completely different than they look outside of mating season. 

Here are some pictures of mature California brown pelicans from Puerto Penasco. 
The dark brown neck and head, red on portions of the bill and around the eye and yellow on its crown and portions of its bill. 
This stretching pelican reveals other colors: a yellow patch at the base of the neck, a brilliant red at the base of its pouch, white surrounding the red, then separated from the yellow by dark black and a better view of the yellow crown. Spectacularly beautiful. 
The pelican at the upper left reveals how much more extensive the red at the base of the pouch is. 
Here is a grouping of 8 pelicans with the one with the particularly red neck at the top center. 
Finally, the pelican to the upper left has a completely white neck, missing the brown of the other pelicans. I'm assuming it may be in the process of maturing, just further along than the one at the top of this post? 


  1. "mature birds during mating season often look completely different than they look outside of mating season." You could say this about human beings too.

  2. Kind of odd looking fellows. They blend well with the rocks.