Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Pelican Year

Pelican Butte
The pelicans are back. Not in the giant rafts like in late fall, but singly or in pairs.  SD and I can once again look out over Agency Lake and see a giant white bird in the cove, or flying gracefully overhead.  Last week while hiking along the dike at the Wood River Wetlands I saw a mass of large, white birds far off in the marsh.

The return of the American White Pelican signals the close of our first year here in Chiloquin. The pelicans were here when we looked at the house last Memorial Day weekend. By the time we moved into the house in July they were meeting up in the cove below us. Each day would begin with a pelican-less beach then gradually fill with more and more of the giant white birds until late afternoon or early evening when they would all fly up, wheel around in unison a few times and sail off North. As the summer progressed into fall the rafts (that's the name for a large group of pelicans) grew until there were at least 60 to 70.  SD and I assumed they stayed year round and wondered what they would do in winter. Then one day in mid-October they were gone.

Writing advice always says "write about what you know."  Until we lived here a whole year, until the
Great White Pelican - Wikipedia
Pelicans returned, I didn't feel I knew enough about this place to write about it. Like many things here I didn't understand what was going on. They came, they massed and then they were gone. Who knew what, or who would show up next? I'm sure there is still much to know but after living a full cycle I feel I just might have enough of a clue to start writing about this place and about our adventures here.

And so...back to the Pelicans. The pelicans here are the American White Pelican.  Much larger than the more common brown pelican they boast a 9 foot wingspan and live and breed in inland, shallow lakes, like Agency and Klamath.  The pelican's feeding areas (like the cove) are often miles from their breeding areas. (here I now suspect that's the Wood River Wetlands to our North). Over the last century their numbers have diminished but their presence in Klamath County remains strong. They are such an integral part of this area that they've given their name to countless other things. Across the lake from the house is Pelican Butte, to the East of which lies Pelican Bay.
Pelican Pete says "Hi"
The Klamath Union High School 's mascot is Pelican Pete. Pelican City, home to Pelican Lumber Company is between us and Klamath Falls.  There is also a Pelican Cinema, Pelican Senior Center, Pelican Signs, Pelican Elementary... you get the idea.

It is in the local tradition of naming everything after Pelicans and in the tradition of the Chinese zodiac that I have therefore named our first year here, the Pelican Year.

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