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Brown Pelican Pictures + Some Facts and Inspiration for My Linocut Art
My early childhood days were spent in the countryside of Wisconsin. My teen years were spent in McAllen, Texas which is approximately seventy miles from the coastline and Padre Island. I attended a junior college the first year of my college days in Corpus Christi, Texas which is situated on the Gulf of Mexico.
For the majority of my life I have lived along with my husband of 4 1/2 decades in Houston, Texas which is about fifty miles from the Gulf of Mexico depending upon which part of the 4th largest city in the United States one lives.
In all of that time excepting the years spent in Wisconsin, we have had many occasions to spend time along the Gulf of Mexico enjoying the many sites which naturally include seeing the omnipresent pelicans. This does not even take into account vacationing along the Gulf shores in other states where pelicans also reside.
My maternal grandfather was a great one for remembering and reciting quotes, poems and limeriks which he considered humorous. One of them that he learned while traveling in Arizona was called "Me Mudder." He often entertained guests with that one.
I have no idea where he first heard or read this pelican limerick created by the poet and humorist Dixon Lanier Merritt who was the editor of Nashville's daily newspaper called The Tennessean (formerly called the Nashville Tennessean prior to 1970).
This humorous limerick has been around since its creation in 1910 and must have been published at one time. Mr. Merritt was obviously interested in all types of birds as he was a founding member of the Tennessee Ornithological Society.
Suffice it to say, I remember hearing this funny "ditty" from my grandfather's lips through the years and here it is for those who may be unfamiliar.
"A wonderful bird is the pelican
His bill can hold more than his belican.
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week;
But I'm damned if I see how the helican."
I can remember seeing the humor in my grandfather's eyes and the broad smile on his face after reciting this!
Pelicans do have large beaks with which they scoop up fish. They then tilt their heads back letting water that has also been collected flow out and proceed to swallow the fish whole.
Some of the pelican photos in this post were taken when my mother and I were visiting my aunt and uncle in Florida. One time after they had taken us to see John and Mable Ringling's winter home called Cà d'Zan (which in the Venetian dialect means "House of John") as well as the Ringling Museum of Art, they took us to a jetty area where many people were fishing.
Dolphins were actively feeding and the fish were jumping. Some private boats were motoring nearby and views of the bay were stunning.
Obviously the pelicans that I photographed had already caught their fill of fish and were resting on the jetty rocks seemingly undisturbed by all of the people walking along the jetties.
Original linocut and block framed together with image of pelican as subject matter.
Shown in the photo above is the one and only block from which I printed my pelican linocut along with the signed and numbered print. The shells, actual fishing net and a finger sponge were all acquired while in Florida. It was assembled and made into a shadowbox. My husband and I have it displayed in the built-in cabinets and bookcase area of our living room.
Not only does it make for a unique piece of art, but it reminds me of that one particular vacation trip that my mother and I enjoyed together.
My uncle and I walked along the sandy west coast Florida beach while my mother and aunt sat in beach chairs and caught up on some visiting. I picked up some beautiful shells to add to my collection and snapped some photos while my uncle successfully added to his sharks tooth collection. A few of those very shells picked up off of the beach made it into this shadowbox.
The fishnet and finger sponge were purchased in Tarpon Springs, Florida...the "sponge capitol of the world." While the pelican art is the prime focus inside of this shadowbox, I think that the other elements collected from our vacations adds to the overall effect.
Brown pelicans are found on both coastlines in the Americas. They can be seen from Canada on the Atlantic side of the ocean all the way down to the Amazon River and from Canada on the Pacific side ocean all the way down to the Galapagos Islands according to Wikipedia.
They migrate and like warmer waters during the winter so are found year round in Galveston and all along the Gulf Coast where I have seen and photographed them.
Pelicans can weigh up to twelve pounds and can be viewed gliding low over brackish to seawater ready to dive head first to scoop up fish, shrimp or other shellfish and even amphibians like toads and frogs that are spotted near their habitat.
Brown pelicans are social birds and do their nesting in colonies.
Their numbers were in decline and pesticides and DDT were found to be causative factors. Fortunately for the brown pelicans, the use of DDT was banned in the United States back in 1972 and their numbers have once again grown.
"The Pelican State"
There are so many brown pelicans spotted along the Gulf of Mexico that one of the bordering states has even adopted it as their state bird.
Louisiana has the brown pelican also portrayed on their state flag and their great seal and is nicknamed "the pelican state."
When the United States celebrated its bicentennial and the U.S. mint issued quarters from every state, the brown pelican was also a part of what was shown for the one from Louisiana.
The brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) is one of eight species of pelicans and while much more information about this species as well as others can be gathered from reliable sources, you now have some of the background information and the inspiration of what led me to create my original linocut that I titled "Seaside Serenity." Hope you enjoyed these photos and videos and that your approaching days and years to come bring you great serenity.
Louisiana - "The Pelican State"
© 2012 Peggy Woods