Equipment used for science field work on a green background. Equipment includes an NPS Ranger shirt, hat, sunglasses, boot, binoculars, radio, field guides and knife.

Cabrillo Field Notes – Excuse Me, What Do You Keep in Your Gular Pouch?

Dixon Lanier Merritt wrote a great limerick regarding our fine feathered friend in 1910: “Oh, a wondrous bird is the pelican! His bill holds more than his belican. He can take in his beak Enough food for a week. But I’m darned if I know how the helican.” In this field note we discuss the Brown Pelican, the uses of its gular pouch, its diet, description, and, finally, its range.

“Excuse me, what do you keep in your gular pouch?” Some keep fish. Some blow it up like a balloon. Some use it to look fancy. Some use it to hold food for babies, and others use it for air conditioning! Arguably, the most well-known gular pouch is attached to the Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis). Cabrillo National Monument is a happy home to a subspecies – the California Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis californicus) – of these unique birds.

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