The One About the Pelican

I watched Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” at a traumatizingly young age, and have always been sort of freaked out by low-flying birds of any size. Ravens are understandably the worst, but even bushes full of singing sparrows make me nervous. But I also really dig pelicans, so I asked my dad to go on a walk with me down to the wharf in Santa Barbara where they like to hang out. Pelicans on Shop RoofOne of the kitchy tourist shops was covered with pelicans, so the old man and I stood and watched them for a while. Then because it was a lovely day, and we were having a nice walk, we headed out to the end of the pier. Where we came across this handsome fellow:

Also at the end of the pier was a group of two guys and two girls who were very excited about the pelican. One of the girls sat down about two feet to the pelican’s right, and sat quietly while the pelican mugged for the camera. He was pretty unflustered by her, and by the attention he was attracting, and eventually settled down.

Then her friend, who was eating a container of fruit salad, came to sit on the other side of the pelican. What’s that you were saying about friendly?

She, of course, shrieked and jumped up, waving a fork with a chunk of melon around. The pelican wanted some melon, and she flung a piece at the log for him to eat, while the guys laughed and told her they were going to submit the video to some embarassing When Animals Attack show.

But all the commotion attracted the attention of two sea gulls, who swooped over to try to get their greedy mitts on whatever was edible. They dive-bombed the pelican, who kind of flapped them away. Then they started dive-bombing the girl with the fruit salad, who flung the container behind her and threw both hands over her head, and crouched there screaming as the gulls swooped around her. Poor thing didn’t know that you don’t tempt wild birds with food.

Yes, I did laugh, but I also felt bad. And so, so glad it wasn’t me.


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