Brown Pelican – Mangrove Setting

Brown Pelican against Mangrove Background-Key Largo


This Brown Pelican was the first image of my recent rainy day along Florida Bay in Key Largo shared on my previous post.  In the process of reviewing the photo files for ruthless deletions as my new effort to save fewer things– just in case–, I realized that I liked the very first image of the day quite well. Easy to pass over those first shots of any given photo session as just a trial effort without due scrutiny. This handsome fellow stood out quite nicely before a perfect mangrove background and so I wanted to share it too. This was just minutes before the real rain and gusty conditions began but still a drop drips from its beak!!


~ by Judy on August 15, 2015.

18 Responses to “Brown Pelican – Mangrove Setting”

  1. Wonderful bird. Looks self-satisfied!

    • Recalling the scene, I think he’s looking intently into the water below him getting ready to pounce on something.

      • Oh, and explanation for always facing the wind and rain: To turn its back would be to have the wind ruffle its feathers, allowing the rain to reach the skin of its back. Instead, by facing the wind, the rain becomes, as it were, ‘water off the bird’s back’.

      • True!!

  2. Wonderful the way his texture pops out against the softer background, very striking Judy.

    • I guess I must have depth of field issues since I tend to want more. In this case being forced to an open setting with shallow depth of field by dim lighting gave me such a nice background and a main subject that does stand out. The white neck and head feathers help with that effect too. Super glad you enjoyed the way the image looks and appreciate the feedback.

  3. I did know that about why birds face into the wind. It’s one of my few bits of certified bird knowledge!

    Ever since Plato, I’ve loved your pelicans, and this one’s no exception. I like the subdued background, and the way he “pops” because of it. I’ve never seen quite this coloration, though. I’ve always associated the yellow head feathers with juveniles — maybe that’s not so? On the other hand, the ones I see that I think are young ones don’t have any of those other colors. It’s all so confusing when you don’t keep up with it on a regular basis.

    (And, perhaps we don’t have breeding colonies here. That would explain my not recognizing the colors.)

    • Well I wasn’t sure about this guy actually. The mature breeding adult will have the yellow head, white neck, and a rich patch of brown going down the back of the neck, vivid blue eyes and the beak can take on reddish colors too. This one does not have the brown back of neck and the bill seems to be changing. The juvenile in the rain from the previous post with brown eyes and the very dark bill is a comparison. So this guy might be a young adult but not breeding. Bears some study to be sure.

  4. A fabulous image of this wonderful bird, a beautifully composed shot!

    • Thanks!! I remember being a little unhappy when I took the shot because I was just close enough with the 300mm lens to not be able to get the whole bird standing on the rock in the frame even though the setting was great. He had already dived back in by the time I was able to reposition. But, then looking later I realized that I really liked that first and only shot of him. Every shoot I learn something, primarily how to ‘see’ better while I am actively shooting.

      • I think the shot is fantastic without his whole body! By the way I think this is a nonbreeding adult, based on the pelicans we see here along the ocean in my area. Although they’re really brown when young, they have such beautiful colors when they grow up 🙂

      • Yeah, non breeding adult was where I was at too with it. I can remember when I first started birding, I thought all those color variations were separate birds. It has been one of the great pleasures of my life to learn the life cycles and consequent changes in the appearance of birds.

  5. He’s BEAUTIFUL. What perfect composition and setting!

    Much luck with your ruthless deletions (ARGH!!)… One day soon, I must do the same!

    • Well my intentions are generally better than my actions I am afraid. But, am trying to discipline…and super good wishes to you with the same intentions!! Thank goodness for big external drives for the indecisive!

  6. Incredible shot ~ the color and posture of its head is just beautiful. Those brown pelicans are something else.

    • Yeah a bird that seems rather humdrum, cute but humdrum in its juvenile color phase, but is so colorful and interesting as an adult, especially as a breeding adult. I think that pelicans have a similar attraction as penguins, both unwieldy but cute in their mannerisms. I did like this pose a lot, but will admit that while I took care in getting the pelican captured, I failed to realize how much I would like the dof for the background until later.

  7. Very nice photo.

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