Flying Pelican
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A common and familiar sight on beaches, on bays and along the coast, as well as on public piers and following fishing boats to near-shore rocks and islands, brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) inspire surprise and delight for their large size, unusual appearance, and relative tameness. Once near the brink of extinction from pesticides, they can be found in large numbers nowadays, successfully nesting at places such as the Islas Coronados off northwest Baja California, and on some
of California's Channel Islands. Lines of pelicans are often seen with outstretched wings, reaching nearly seven feet across, "surfing" on the air above incoming waves. They hunt for fish by 'aerial plunge-diving', a spectacular behavior. Unlike most swimming birds, all four of their toes are connected by fleshy webbing, shared by relatives such as cormorants and boobies. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Claude G. Edwards

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