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The Patina Journal - Volume 5 Edition 3 March 2020 The Fascinating World of Pelicans: A Closer Look into These Incredible Birds

Artist Geoffrey Smith shows us two small pelicans he sculpted in clay.

Welcome to the March 2020 Edition of the Patina Journal. In this issue, learn more about pelicans. See Geoffrey's photos, learn some interesting facts, and watch my new video that shows me sculpting a pelican. 

A view of Artist Geoffrey Smiths sculpture studio showing a very large stainless steel pelican and a clay sculpture they appear to be looking at one another.

Dear Friends,

     As you may know, I grew up on the banks of Richardson Bay in the San Francisco area of Northern California. I have always enjoyed fishing- and I have a secret helper, The Pelican! Flying above a school of fish they dive like a missile into the water, then pop up to the surface to tip back a pouch full of fish. I have always loved watching them "working" and using them as a sentinel of great fishing locations. 

      In Florida, we have two types of pelicans. The Brown Pelican (tree nesting) and the large American White Pelican (ground nesting). These funny birds have made an amazing comeback after a major decline due to DDT in the 1950s and '60s.  

     It is very common to see The Browns sitting on a piling or bobbing across the salty water- stalking ever closer as I felt a fish. Personally, I encourage you not to feed them. If you must, please feed them small cuts of fresh fish meat and not large bones that can kill the birds by getting stuck. They can also puncture the bird's pouch and they don't provide any nutrition. 

     White Pelicans are huge! With a wingspan of 96 - 114 inches, they are one of North America's largest migratory birds. I frequently find them in the freshwater of Lake Okeechobee or the many STA's around the state. They are cooperative feeders meaning the birds group up and corral the fish together to make it easier to scoop multiple fish into their bills at once. As the name implies, their plumage is white except for black wing feathers that can only be seen when they are flying. Their bills are also huge. In the breeding season, it changes from a dull yellow to vivid orange color as does the skin around the eyes and feet. They also grow a flattened Horn on top of the bills that are shed after the birds have mated and laid their eggs. Males and females look exactly alike.

     I hope this information encourages you to go looking for my friend, the pelican. I invite you to watch our latest video! We look forward to seeing you soon at the Studio or Downtown Gallery.


Fun fact from the team: Geoffrey has created 29 unique pelican sculptures ranging in size from the smallest being 3 inches to the largest being over 6 feet tall! He just sculpted two more (see the top photo)!

A flying American White Pelican with its huge wings up in the air showing wing details of its white body with black wing tip feathers.

This is The American White Pelican is one of the world's largest birds!! It has a wing span of 9 feet and can way 30 pounds. I spotted this flock near Lake Okeechobee.

A large flock of may types of birds including large white pelicans and glossy ibis.

A brown pelican standing on a dock piling showing off his white neck and yellow head.

Pictured above is our neighborhood Brown Pelican, I took this photo behind my home in Stuart.

Click above to watch

Geoffrey sculpting a pelican!

Just For Fun:

A wonderful bird is the pelican, 

His bill will hold more than his beli-can, 

He can take in his beak 

Food enough for a week,

But I'm damned if I see how the helican.

Limerick by Dixon Lanier Merritt in 1910

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