|Copyright: John Denk (jpdenk)
|Date Taken: 2010-08-15|
|Camera: Nikon D90, Sigma 170-500mm APO|
|Exposure: f/8, 1/320 seconds|
|Details: Tripod: Yes|
|More Photo Info: [view]|
|Photo Version: Original Version|
|Date Submitted: 2010-08-17 6:46|
|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|American White Pelicans, Pelecanus erythrorhynchos, a bird typically found to the west and north of the area where I live in northeastern Illinois. They do occasionally wander into this area during migration. This appears to be a family, as there are some immature birds as shown by the gray in their feathers. There were 6 of them on a small pond near my home this past weekend, along with lots of Double Crested Cormorants, Phalacrocorax auritus. The pond has a huge population of Carp and Bullheads which is why these fish-eating birds were hanging around there.|
They were about 400-500 feet away, so I had to use my longest lens, a Sigma 170-500 F/5.6-6.3 APO zoom at the full 500mm focal length and also added my Kenko 2X extender for all the reach I could get. So on my Nikon D90, the effective focal length was 1,500mm, which was a real challenge even on my heaviest tripod. I used the mirror lock-up (sort of) feature to minimize camera vibration. There was a slight breeze which also caused visible vibrations. I also had problems in some shots with chromatic aberration due mainly to the 2X extender, I think. This was one of the better shots that I got. I had to clean up some CA in Photoshop. It's pretty ugly at full resolution, but looks OK when down sized.
Here's some info from Wikipedia about this species:
It is a very large and plump bird; its overall length is about 50–67 inches (130–170 cm), courtesy of the huge beak which measures 13–14.4 inches (330–370 mm) in males and 10.4–13 in (260–330 mm) in females. It has a wingspan of about 95–120 in (240–300 cm) and weighs between 11 and 20 lb (5.0 and 9.1 kg). The plumage is almost entirely bright white, except the black primary and secondary remiges, which are hardly visible except in flight. From early spring until after breeding has finished in mid-late summer, the breast feathers have a yellowish hue. After moulting into the eclipse plumage, the upper head often has a grey hue, as blackish feathers grow between the small wispy white crest.
The bill is long and flat, with a large throat sac, and in the breeding season vivid orange like the iris, the bare skin around the eye, and the feet. In the breeding season, there is a laterally flattened "horn" on the upper bill, about one-third the bill's length behind the tip. This is shed off after the birds have mated and laid their eggs, and outside the breeding season the bare parts become duller in color, with the naked facial skin yellow and the bill, pouch and feet an orangy-flesh color.
Apart from the difference in size, males and females look exactly alike. Immature birds have light grey plumage with darker brownish nape and remiges. Their bare parts are dull grey. Hatchlings are naked at first, then grow white down feathers all over, before moulting to the immature plumage.
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