Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Longboat Key Pelican Squadron

During our recent Thanksgiving holiday visit to the west coast of Florida, we were treated to a display of the Longboat Key Pelican Squadron practicing maneuvers over the Gulf of Mexico. Above the wind-whipped rollers, wave upon wave of the heavy-billed bombers took turns plunging purposefully into the churning surf. Their target; vast schools of tasty, flashing silver menhaden. Indeed it was a delight to observe this skillful fleet perform a spectacular aerial exhibition.

Please click on the images for a closer look.

A lone pilot soars aloft

A rapid descent

The strike!

The young are trained by the more experienced pilots

Moments before impact

Alongside the diving pelican squadron, an armada of escort pilots (Sandwich Terns) join in on the spectacle

Liftoff can be hazardous

A Fleet of pelicans fly in loose formation over the Gulf of Mexico

The aviators roll and begin their accelerated, steep descent to capture the tasty, glittery treasure below

Air sacs under the skin cushion the pelican from the impact of multiple daily dives

The pelicans recover quickly after submerging in the briny waters

A team dive

Keen eyesight aids the pelicans in their quest for food

As the pelican squadron moves on, a standing ovation is in order for this visually striking performance

Post by Julie Gidwitz
Nature's Splendor ~


  1. Amazing flying machines. No invention of man can replicate such incredible aerial acrobatics !

  2. Uwielbiam te ptaki. Zdjecia są niesamowite i piekne. Gratuluję :).
    I love these birds. Pictures are amazing and beautiful. Congratulations :).

  3. Awesome captures, Julie! The "team dive" is spectacular! Pelicans are great fun to watch!! I wish you much peace and happiness in the New Year!

  4. Love seeing all of these pelicans, Julie! Great Photos... I want to go back to Longboat Key! I always enjoyed birding in that little park near the bridge. (Happy New Year!)

  5. WOW, great photos. I love seeing the pelicans. Thank you so much for sharing.

  6. Hapy new year.
    Greetings from Spain.

  7. Julie, these are awesome shots of the Pelicans.. I love the action! Great post! Happy New Year to you and yours!

  8. That would have made wonderful viewing. Thanks for sharing it.

  9. Wonderful stuff - like the flick books we made as kids.