Saturday Snapshot Aug. 27: Synchronized Swimming, Team Pelican

I don’t have to wait four years for another Olympics. A couple of days ago I caught sight of these Nature’s Athletes. From afar I could tell they were members of Team Pelican.

The Pelicans are a gregarious lot, their talents innate, every move graceful. They display their elegant team work in Nature’s open arena, effortless, in sync with each other. Here they are, full of bubbly camaraderie:

Comaraderie (2)

Remember a previous post where I saw them in the air, like squadrons of fighter jets; in the water, they form a tight-knit configuration as well. With that formation, they cooperate to surround fish in the water, scooping them into their pouches:

Inate talents (1)

What a beautiful idea: communal feeding. What you see here are snapshots. What I remember is a long video. I must have been there watching and snapping away for over a half hour:

Let's eat together (1)

Elegant synchronized swimmers in perfect harmony. Kudos to their Coach.

Synchronized Swimming (2)

Look at their sheer size in comparison to the gull behind them.

Sync Swim (1)

Sometimes you can get tangled up with minor mishaps. Wait up, guys, I’m a little stuck here:

Wait up 2

No worries. We’re Team Pelican. All for one and one for all; our bills as swords to pledge.

Bills as swords



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If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Creator of Ripple Effects, bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

33 thoughts on “Saturday Snapshot Aug. 27: Synchronized Swimming, Team Pelican”

  1. I would love to watch these birds more than any televised human Olympics event. I hope that someday I might see my own personal and immediate “video,” but in the meantime your stunning pictures will more than suffice. I’m happy and thankful that they were patient subjects and that you were able to be with them for such a good while.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. GretchenJoanna,

      Thanks for your kind words. Pelicans are not fretful creatures, rather, they are patient, calm, not easily alarmed. That’s why they are ‘easy’ to photograph. And I’m glad they are frequent avian visitors to my neck of the woods, by the Bow River in Calgary. Very happy to catch these memorable moments.


    1. JoAnn,

      American White Pelicans are awesome creatures. Considering their size, they are not hostile but very placid, and look kind of comical. One of my all time faves. 😉


    1. Sandra,

      Thanks. Yes, so glad that I was at the right time and place to witness these wonderful creatures doing their thing, communal breakfast. 😉


  2. They’re great photos – I’m glad you put in how long it took you to get the snaps. So much of wildlife photography is in the waiting, which I am too impatient for, and it’s good to have a reminder that the most beautiful things often don’t come easily.


    1. Denise,

      When I saw them they were already doing all these fantastic synchronized movements and catching fish. Too bad I wasn’t able to take a photo of them with the fish caught in their bills. I stayed there more than half an hour to watch. It was pure serendipity that I came across the whole clan having their morning breakfast. 😉


  3. Thanks for such a fun post! You made me look at pelicans in a whole new way. The narrative and the photos were absolutely delightful. And, you’re right, nature does give us the best Olympics.


  4. What a great set of photos. I loved watching the pelicans fly just above the water in formation on the Gulf Coast. I have a few grainy pictures somewhere.

    Sadly, they are all too often the victims of fishing lines and nets. At the end of my first year down here, I found one trapped by a discarded line. He was rescued. It was quite the event involving several people and a borrowed boat. Unfortunately the line cut too deeply and he passed away at the rescue center a few days later. It broke my heart.


    1. Michelle,

      So sorry to hear about the plight of your pelican. Nothing like that here in Calgary. The Bow River is relatively devoid of human activities except the occasional fishermen. The water is clear and clean. Maybe that’s why they like to congregate here and eat to their heart’s content. 😉


    1. I didn’t have to wait to see their performance. I just stayed there for over a half hour watching them. They probably had continued for hours after I’d gone. If I had all the time in the world I would have camped out there and watched till night. 🙂


  5. Yes Arti you do know the cooperation of
    Pelican behavior quite well!!
    You are a biologist and naturalist and I so enjoyed these photos – a picture says a thousand words!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a delightful set of pictures! I do remember your previous post with the pelicans in the air. What magnificent creatures they are. Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with them…


  7. I’ve never seen white pelicans feed. Here, of course, we have the brown ones more than the white, and brown pelicans feed by diving into the water from the air. That method means they feed in a more solitary manner, too!

    Since we do have white pelicans here in winter, I’ll have to see if I can’t find their feedings grounds. They must be going somewhere other than the bay, because I’ve never seen a floatilla of them there. Your photos are wonderful.


    1. Linda,

      These are called American White Pelican. And I’ve to interpret the word “American” refers to the Continent and not the country since we have them up here frequently. I’m sure they migrate down to your area in the winter. Do watch for them. They gather along shallow, clear, running water. Like what you see here is the Bow River, which runs down from the Rocky Mtns. There are lots of fish here and I can see people wading out to waist high water to fish.


  8. I have never seen a team of pelicans like you show us – all in harmony. The last time I saw pelicans I think was in Key West, Florida, by the water – but they were brown and did not seem to be part of a team. Maybe yours are a Canada team, and it makes all the difference …


    1. VB,

      The ones you saw down at Key West was a different kind. What we have here up north are called American White Pelicans. I’m sure they migrate between our two countries. And they are model birds, I’d say. 🙂


  9. These are FABULOUS! That “tail feathers up!” photo is just magnificent! I, too, love pelicans (and am happy to say I have a lovely set of coasters that bring them into my life each day, bright blue water and all!) Your work here is, as always, spot on.


    1. Jeanie,

      Yes, I was so excited as I caught them doing these wonderful movements this time. See them mostly in the air, or just swimming on their own. But this is the first time having their communal breakfast. And so glad you have a set of coasters to look at in lieu of watching the real Pelican Clan. 😉


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