Monday, January 30, 2012

Watching White Pelicans

I got behind on a lot of things during the past couple of months. Here are two sets of sketches I did when we had white pelicans using a small reservoir about twenty miles from where I live. Watching white pelican fish is fascinating. They can hold nearly three gallons (about 10 liters) of water in their gular pouch. Pelican swim in a group, chasing fish to each other or corralling them near the shoreline. A pelican repeatedly dips its long bill into the water, filling its pouch with water in the process. Up comes the big bowl full of water which the pelican strains out as it raises its head. If a fish is inside, it tips its bill up to swallow.

For more about my pelican experience, go to


  1. These are wonderful sketches Elva. I love the little line drawings in the bottom one especially. Pelicans always seem to me like clowns who are trying to act dignified and your sketches really captured that. What was your sketching process for the colored ones? Pen and ink with watercolor? WC pencils? They're really lovely.

    1. Both are sketched with a fountain pen and Platinum Carbon ink (waterproof -- wonderful ink). The top on I added the color at home. The bottom one I painted in the field. I have a little box of Winsor and Newton paints that slips into my fanny pack. I know I used a little pencil on some of them, but I don't think I did on all of them.

  2. I the graceful lines of your sketches. The lines are just enough to convey meaning.

    The natural history information you gave made the sketches even more fascinating.

  3. I like the way you have placed the different poses of the pelican on the page. The viewer gets a good idea of their behavior from the poses. Bravo!

  4. Lucky you!! These are wonderful, Elva! For the most part we have Brown Pelicans here in SC. But, in the winter, the ACE Basin does have the pleasure of the White Pelicans. Funny how different the White and Brown hunt for food.


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