Moments: Rub-a-dub-dub, a Pelican in the Tub

I have written many times before about what I consider to be the preplanned actions of some birds.
It’s easy to see a bird fly round, or past, go to a tree, roam over the grass, or maybe sit quietly in the water and conclude that they just react from one situation to another without much planning or forethought.

Now I have no scientific measure for any of this, nor have I assembled loads of peer-assessed data, so at best it becomes anecdotal, at worse, biased opinion.

We were sitting on a bench near one of the small ponds at the Balyang Sanctuary on the Barwon River. We had, truth be told, gone there looking for nesting Australasian Darters.  These birds have nested along the river near the road bridge for quite a number of years and have had very successful colonies. But when we arrived there was only a single bird sitting in the sunshine.  The nesting trees were empty. And by the look of it, hadn’t been used in the past season. Perhaps the trees no longer were suitable, or maybe the birds have moved up or down the river. Maybe.

So we sat in the sunshine, watched some Little Pied Cormorants at nest, and a White-faced Heron feeding its bold, noisy young’uns.

When out of the blue, literally, a huge white shape circled the pond and came into land quite near to where we were sitting.

An Australian Pelican.

It quickly turned about and moved to the middle of the pond and began its bathing routine.  A pelican can throw up a lot of water.
Then slowly it paddled and washed its way to the far side of the lake.  The light was starting to go backlight and the water drops were sparkling.  I was hugging the lens close keeping the bird in frame, when on a sudden, it reared up, took a couple of jumps and a wing flap or two that carried it the top of a nesting box, so it could preen in the sunshine.

You clever bird, I said as it landed. It had the nesting box in mind all the time I think, just needed to clean up and move that way. Then a quick hop-step and flap and it had achieved its plan.
Now perhaps I read to much into it, and it would have flown to a tree, pole or fence post, but the positioning of the final wash and turn, put it into a perfect position for an effortless leap to rest.








8 thoughts on “Moments: Rub-a-dub-dub, a Pelican in the Tub

  1. G’day David,
    This is a great story and the photos of the pelican are splendid. I like your way of thinking. This may be a very special Australian Pelican thing but I’m sure these birds are very intelligent. I am applying a human judgement to a different creature, that in turn can consider this as something stupid (hopefully not offensive); nevertheless I always respect the pelicans as much as I can’t stop a smile involuntarily appearing on my face whenever I see one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. G,day Adam, the more I work with a bird or a family the more I think I begin to understand a ltitle of what they are doing. Is it instinct, or learned behaviour. Or is there some reasoning process we don’t understand going on. Why do Pigeons and Sparrows work out the opening and closing cycle of doors at shopping centres and cafes


  2. A great narrative, David. Indeed most birds are clearly very intelligent and work out the plan beforehand. (EG the Browns clearly map out the area). I believe this Peli had the nesting box in mind as the perfect drying perch, possibly had used it before. Superb shots of events as they unfolded!
    (Hopefully this comment will show)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi David, its been my long held belief that Brown Falcons know their territory in the same we negotiate the isles at a supermarket or Bunnings. Every bush, plant, open area, is known and can be scanned for possible food or threat.


  3. Oh I agree, birds are (for the most part anyway) very smart. Pelicans have to be right up there, when you consider the teamwork they do to catch fish, for example. A lovely story and series of images. Any bird having a bath is enjoyable to watch, but one as big as a Pelican is a special event. BYO raincoat if anywhere nearby!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Eleanor, thanks, there are myriad example of ravens being able to problem solve, for instance. I love watching pigeons and sparrows working through shopping centre doors. I’ve see one pigeon work out that some one was coming in, and fly back and around to have a fast run through the door at its widest opening. That has to be some sort of reasoning, else it would have hit the door with mis-timing.
      The more we know, well, the less…


  4. Some great captures David! In my first book I gave the Pelican credit for it’s resourcefulness, as it is very intelligent and finds various ways in the moment to achieve it’s immediate goal. I enjoyed your narrative and also the way you caught the light on the subject, especially where it appeared to be ready to land. We always love to see the Darter babies at Olympic Park, they look so unusual, like something from outer space. Have an enjoyable week!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ashley, like many big birds in groups they seem to blend into the group status, but when seen as individuals, they are not only charming, but seem to have their own special personality.
      We used to have easy access to the nesting birds as they were on the river next to a busy road bridge. But they seem to have abandoned the area at present.

      Liked by 1 person

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