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June 20, 2007

Brown pelican

chillin', originally uploaded by amaw.

This one's for Uncle Kvetch who loves pelicans as much as I do.


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By 1969 of over a thousand brown pelican nesting pairs off Southern California, fewer than a dozen raised nestlings all the way to fledging. Bioaccumulated DDT had suppressed egg production and had made the shells of those laid hopelessly thin. Brown pelicans were already extirpated in Louisiana and much of the Gulf Coast. DDT by that time was already useless for the best thing it was suited for: killing mosquitoes that vector malaria and yellow fever. Massive overuse had selected DDT-resistant mosquitoes almost everywhere control was desired. Agriculture was facing the same problem, but could hold off a little while longer by applying ever greater amounts of the stuff. And as long as they could do so, there wasn’t much incentive to develop other pesticides: the people dying of malaria were charity cases anyhow. It was also obvious by that time that other species of birds such as ospreys, peregrine falcons, bald eagles, were not possibly, but certainly headed for extinction if DDT use was continued at the same or greater levels.

Along about that time, as the EPA was deciding whether or not to ban DDT, I remember seeing Ronald Reagan (Republican Gov. of Calif., and official water boy for Big Agriculture.) flapping his wattles and running his yap off on TV about how a ban on DDT would cause world-wide plagues and starvation. Well. . ., Ronnie bit the dust and the pelicans are still here. There is reason for optimism!

Ironically, after a few decades with no exposure to DDT, many mosquitoes are susceptible again. This time, it is being used sparingly, as it should have been done in the beginning, to treat sleeping nets and the insides of houses and huts, only to kill disease vectors, as opposed to saturating swamps and fogging whole neighborhoods. There is still some agricultural use of DDT in poorer countries, hopefully less all the time.

Elegant creature...

I have some better shots, but not uploaded.>Cruising

Nice shot, pecunium. When's that photography book of yours coming out? I can't wait to see it.

What a beaut. Mille grazie, Lindsay!

In Florida, at least, the ospreys are back in a big way, too. I remember not seeing them too often when growing up, but now they seem to be building nests on top of cell phone towers, transmission line towers, you name it.

Where I grew up, the brown pelicans never seemed to get that rare, but there's more of them now. My brother and I both have rescued pelicans that got hooked by a fish-on-a-line. They're big birds, in person.

I have to pitch it first. Assuming I can get it bought... probably be about a year (what with writing, and production schedules; not the least of which is some of it will require photo made to fit examples).

To write the book I'd like to write will take a lot of synthsizing, and then the editing.

But I'll make a copy of the better pictures (I like the composition of that one, esp. the being above him, but the light's mediocre), and then post the link here.

I forgot to say the composition/mood in the that shot is compelling.

It's hard to talk about photos without saying, "I like", because that short circuits the process. There's a sense of place, and connection to the bird. He's looking at the viewer, and that hits one, right in the gut.>Here is the better picture I promised.

Behold the pelican

Whose beak can hold more than his bellycan

Okay, the proper poem quote (not the one my Dad remembered):

A wonderful bird is the pelican
His bill will hold more that his belican.

Now, the total doggerel --

A Gorgeous Bird is the Pelican,
Whose Beak can Hold more
than his Bellican.
He can put in his Beak.
Food enough for a week,
But I'll be Damned
If I can see how in Hellican.

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