Where the river running through Viña del Mar meets the ocean

Where the river running through Viña del Mar meets the ocean

My first sighting of a Pelican gliding above the water

My first sighting of a Pelican gliding above the water

While visiting Viña del Mar a small city on the coast of Chile I was captivated by the pelicans I found at the river mouth. Pelicans are very gracious birds as they soar above the water and land without causing too much of a disturbance to the water surface. They are gracious when in motion, moving elegantly on and above the water.

 

In level flight they fly with their long heads held back on their shoulders and their bills resting on their folded necks, propelling themselves with slow, powerful beats of their broad wings.  

In flight the Pelicans look so graceful

In flight the Pelicans look so graceful

The feet are also used as a brake when the birds are landing on water.

The feet are also used as a brake when the birds are landing on water.

pelicans were surface-swimming in a group

Pelicans surface-swimming in a group

I am not a bird watcher so couldn’t actually tell you if these were the Peruvian Pelican or the Brown pelican, both can be found here on the Chilean coast.

These pelicans were surface-swimming in a group, foraging for fish by driving them into shallow water by beating their wings on the surface. When fish congregate in the shallows, the pelicans simply plunged their heads into the water to scoop them up.

Beating their wings on the surface driving fish to the surface

Beating their wings on the surface driving fish to the surface

Pelicans are strong swimmers, as their large webbed feet make powerful paddles.  The feet are also used as a brake when the birds are landing on water. When taking off from water they hop with feet together to gain speed.

Pelicans on the hunt....

Pelicans on the hunt….

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