For a European birdwatcher, a Pelican is an exotic sounding bird. A bird of the tropics and the Mediterranean. To see them high on a mountain lake in the High Rockies of Colorado, of course is no surprise. But somehow it seems strange. Of course the White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) breeding grounds are not in some tropical idyll but in the high plains of the US and Canada.
I feel great pleasure, good reader, in assuring you, that our White Pelican, which has hitherto been considered the same as that found in Europe, is quite different. In consequence of this discovery, I have honoured it with the name of my beloved country, over the mighty streams of which, may this splendid bird wander free and unmolested to the most distant times, as it has already done from the misty ages of unknown antiquity.
There is patriotism (of the positive kind) and an sense of awe and hope for this bird.
I am sure that Audubon would have be mortified by the death of thousands of the American White Pelican’s cousin, the Brown, in the oil spill last year in the Gulf.
The White Pelicans were loathing about on Grand Lake in the Colorado Valley. I saw a flock a few days later of about 12 flying high with a background of snow covered peaks, bringing a touch of the exotic to high lands of Colorado.