On Sunday mornings, Randy and I have a ritual. In the morning we go to a favorite Los Muertos beach club for brunch – eggs benedict, chilaquiles, or if we can afford the calories, waffles. A margarita completes the celebration. We call it “church.”
This piece is titled “The Captain and his Mates.” It was a foggy Sunday morning. As the sun burned off the salty air, a well-traveled fishing boat filled with pelicans was revealed. The big white guy in the bow is clearly in charge, “the captain.”
Pelicans are social birds, whether they are fishing together flying in formation or just hanging out. “The Captain and His Mates” embodies their society.
The Bay of Banderas is filled with birds. I especially love the sea birds. Both pelicans and frigate birds are direct descendants of dinosaurs. Before they were evolved into pelicans, these flying reptiles may have skimmed over the water, scooping and storing fish in a throat pouch, paleontologists report. The newly discovered pterosaur species lived some 120 million years ago in China. They had teeth but hunted the same way as modern pelicans.
Pelicans nest in low shrubs, or on the ground in protected places. Many of them have nests on the Los Arcos Islands or other small islands in the bay. We should follow their example. They parent together, both take a role in feeding and tending the chicks.
Pelicans are amongst the heaviest of the flying birds. They fly thanks to air sacs in their bones, which allow them to reach heights of 10,000 feet on warm air currents.
There is something raw and elemental about pelicans when they are on the hunt. They are great fishers. They fly over the water, their keen eyes watching for movement below the surface. A sharp dive. PLOP! They enter the water, rising with the “catch of the ay” in their beaks which expand like a fisherman’s net. I love to watch them fly in formation, traveling together aerodynamically in a v-formation.
When not hunting, they’re together resting. As my friend Chuy says,d “Bro, they’re hanging.”