White Pelicans

White Pelicans

I first heard about the white pelicans passing through our area in the spring a few years ago. By the time I heard about it, they were already gone. Every spring after that I’d be out at the lakes, searching. At first, nothing. They became mythical in my mind. I felt I may as well be chasing unicorns. Then I got lucky and saw a flock lift off from the lake, quite a distance from where I stood. Too far for a photograph, but breathtaking. They are magnificent! Finally last year I was able to find a spot where I could snap a few photos. This painting is a result of 3 of those photos. Just look at that schnoz! What fun.


  1. A schnoz indeed. My eyes went there before anywhere else.

    Given your subject, I have to quote this French poem:

    Le pélican
    ~ Robert Desnos

    Le capitaine Jonathan,
    Etant âgé de dix-huit ans,
    Capture un jour un pélican
    Dans une île d’Extrême-Orient,

    Le pélican de Jonathan,
    Au matin, pond un oeuf tout blanc
    Et il en sort un pélican
    Lui ressemblant étonnamment.

    Et ce deuxième pélican
    Pond, à son tour, un oeuf tout blanc
    D’où sort, inévitablement,
    Un autre, qui en fait autant.

    Cela peut durer pendant très longtemps
    Si l’on ne fait pas d’omelette avant.

    Captain Jonathan,
    Who’s 18 years old,
    One day captures a pelican
    On an island in the Far East.

    The next morning, Jonathan’s pelican
    Lays a pure white egg,
    And from it there emerges
    An astonishingly similar-looking pelican.

    And this second pelican
    In its turn lays a pure white egg
    From which there inevitably comes
    Another, which then does likewise.

    This can keep going on for a long, long time
    Unless someone makes an omelet first.


  2. You’ve caught the birds perfectly: particularly the downward turn of the background bird’s beak. They’re gone now, and I already miss them. Watching them wheel in around November or December is thrilling. They arrive in large groups, and spend time circling high in the sky before coming in for a landing. As long as I’ve been here, one group has hung out at the entrance to the bay — one bird per piling. They’re here all winter, and then they’re gone. We never see them leave. Like the coots, they just go.

    The water in your painting’s well done, too. I can almost sense them bobbing up and down in the gentle wash.


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