Juvenile Brown Pelican gliding over the Gulf of Mexico

Juvenile Brown Pelican gliding over the Gulf of MexicoJuvenile Brown Pelican gliding over the Gulf of Mexico – Nikon D200, handheld, f10, 1/320, ISO 200, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light, not baited

In Florida it was not uncommon for me to see Brown Pelicans gliding just barely above the surface of the Gulf of Mexico like the juvenile shown in my image. At times I would see a small flock of Brown Pelicans gliding and at other times it might be just a single bird. Gliding just above the waters surface saves energy because of reduced drag due to ground effect. I’ve seen Brown Pelicans so close to the waters surface while gliding that their primaries just barely touch the water but typically they are a few inches over the surface.


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About Mia McPherson

I am a nature lover, wildlife watcher and a bird photographer. I first become serious about bird photography when I moved to Florida in 2004 and it wasn’t long before I was hooked (addicted is more like it). My move to the Salt Lake area of Utah was a great opportunity to continue observing their behavior and to pursue my passion for photographing birds.


  1. I love this image but I don’t understand how flying low reduces air resistance.

  2. Beautiful picture! Thanks :)

  3. How very, very beautiful. Thank you.

  4. Amazing “flight control” to be able to skim just above the water’s surface like that! (Nice composition, too)….

  5. that’s a great capture, Mia … when we used to go to the beach, it was such a treat to see these guys gliding along … it looked so peaceful. Of course, i never got to see them as closely as this!!! Love the image!!!!

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