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2012 September Brown Pelican Bird-of-the-Month

(See member picture gallery below). September’s bird of the month is a familiar sight to beachgoers here, a large, graceful soarer that is ever so ungainly on land: the Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis). A large bird, it is nevertheless the smallest of the seven species worldwide; its cousin the American White Pelican is substantially larger. We see squadrons of these birds “ridge soaring” up and down our Atlantic beaches; most of them are juveniles, with white bellies and brown heads. Adults have a brown belly, gray back and wings and white head and neck in the nonbreeding season, while they are grayer overall but with a striking contrast between the white head and the rich brown neck they wear during the breeding season. (The Pacific subspecies acquires a bright red throat patch as well when its hormones run high. )