The American White Pelican Pelecanus erythrorhynchos that was first reported from Jamaica Bay on Wednesday, 14 July, (and that I twitched on 15 July) was still present in the same spot as of yesterday.  Those who have gone looking for it in the afternoon during or after the high tide have not seen it while those who have gotten there in the morning before the high tide have had the privilege of spotting the rare-for-New York bird.  What will happen when the high tide coincides with morning is anyone’s guess but for the near term, if you want to see the bird, you should get there before noon.

That is what Seth and I did on Saturday after a flat tire spoiled our pelagic plans.  We were pleased to see the pelican present in the same spot, and, joined by Brooklynite birder Heydi, we worked our way around to a more advantageous position to see the bird, in that we put the sun behind us and the bird closer and in front of us.  This time the bird did more than preen; it sat there, preened, walked around a bit, swam a bit, and even flapped its wings on occasion.  It was fun to watch one of the biggest birds out there interacting with other species (mostly this consisted of other birds getting out of the way) and great to get some better images of a bird I rarely get to see.

As the tide came up the pelican swam briefly, and even turned its head sideways and went after prey a couple of times, a fun thing to watch.

After its snack the pelican just wanted to preen a bit and rest.

You might notice in the picture above that the pelican’s left eye seems to be injured or missing (other birders noticed this and posted about it on the listserv).  There is definitely something not-quite-right with the eye but the shot below shows that the eye is still there, though, after seeing some other photos taken by another photographer, it seems likely that the eye does not function.

The bird seems to be doing alright, even with the eye issue.  Here’s hoping it sticks around for awhile until everyone who wants to see a pelican in Queens gets to see it!

This post has been submitted to Bird Photography Weekly #99.  Go check it out!

Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy and Desmond Shearwater. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.