Coming back up the bluff’s 50-foot high stairway, this knight paused to get his wind and got a bird’s eye view as the crow flies* of pelicans gliding by, sustained by onshore air currents. Occasionally, Red-shouldered hawks also soared by as they looked for prey, such as the abundant California ground squirrels, and were harassed by spirited crows defending their territory.*
Crows are now considered to be among the world’s most intelligent animals, as demonstrated by Dr. Alex Taylor in the BBC documentary, “Inside the Animal Mind.”*
On page 87 in the Spanish novel, Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes, translated by Edith Grossman, HarperCollins Publishers, 2005, Don Quixote said this about the crow:
According to an ancient and widespread tradition throughout the kingdom of Great Britain, this king [King Arthur] did not die but, through the art of enchantment, was turned into a crow and in time will return to rule and recover his kingdom and scepter…
(I continue to enjoy the benefits of reading out loud a chapter at a time at bedtime of this very readable and enjoyable translation of this great work!)
California brown pelicans also seem right at home in this kingdom by the sea.
The brown pelican, once shot at for millinery plumes, first received legal protection when Theodore Roosevelt* created sixteen federal bird refuges, starting with Pelican Island, Florida, in 1903. The species is protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, and was placed on the U.S. Endangered Species List in 1970 due to the effects of DDT on its eggs. Agricultural use of DDT in the U.S. was banned in 1972 and by 2009, brown pelicans made a comeback and were removed from the Endangered Species List. They are now commonly seen flying along California’s coast* and diving into the ocean to capture food.*
But a recent brown pelican population survey led by UC Davis professor emeritus and wildlife biologist Dan Anderson found a drastic decline in nesting pairs, which may be due to changes in ocean temperature and shifts in the pelicans’ food supply.
San Diego Audubon Society says, “Celebrate birds because they fly…” (Click on their beautiful video stream at the bottom of their website.)
Watching this pelican ballet in the sky was mesmerizing, but by noon, it was time to take my usual midday shower in the campground’s facilities. (We are very frugal with the use of water and electricity in the trailer. By the fifth day of non-hookup camping, our 30-gallon freshwater tank is typically half full, which means we typically use 3 gallons/day!) After showers, I always look forward to eating a sandwich made by Larry and then catching up on notes and reading.
While eating my lunch, a squirrel tried to claw its way into a bag of potato chips!
*This is a link to a YouTube video.