Just Another Thursday at Work

[knock, knock, knock] Uh, hi. Me and my crew are working down the road and there's this bird. It keeps following us around and my guys are scared of it.

Yes sir, I'll be happy to help if I can. Could you tell me what type of bird it is? (I reach for a net)

It's one of those birds with a big bill. You know, about this long...(spreads hands to indicate about 10 inches) Plus, it's got like duck feet. You know?

Are you talking about a pelican? (my eyebrows raise inquiringly and I put my inadequate net back against the wall)

Yeah, yeah...that's what it is, a pelican. (vigorous nodding) I couldn't think of what they were called, but I saw one on TV once.

And you say your crew is working nearby here?

Yes m'am. Just out on the highway there. You know, in the median.

I'll follow you in my truck...

Sure enough, it was a pelican. A pelican "terrorizing" a DOT crew working in the median of the highway. The poor guys were tucked safely in their trucks and didn't get out until I got out of my truck. Seems they were putting out signs and traffic cones and this pelican just started following them around.

Not wanting to startle the pelican, I approached it slowly. It just stood there, calm as could be. I raised the binoculars to read the band on its leg and recorded as much of the number as I could. Meanwhile I was trying to think of who to call to help me wrangle a pelican -- didn't want the bird to fly out onto the road because it's a busy highway. Assuring the work crew that I would be back as quick as I could I headed back to the park. Close to our parking lot I spotted a county animal control truck and flagged him down. Yipee! Help.

Me: Hi, how you doing? You have anything in your truck to catch a pelican?

Animal Control Officer: So that's what it is, eh? A pelican. Dispatch said there was a report of a bearded duck out here not letting people out of their cars. I saw your truck as I passed. Is it out there on the highway?

Me: Yep and the DOT guys are not happy.

ACO: I've got a net... (Sheriff's Deputy wheels in) Hey, Deputy! That bearded duck call is about a pelican. The ranger here saw it.

Deputy: Heh. I thought dispatch was gonna choke trying to keep from laughing about the bearded duck. (Another animal control truck rolls up.)

Me: Hi. How are your pelican wrangling skills?

Second ACO: Guess we'll find out. I was kinda hoping it really was a bearded duck...

First ACO: Ranger Swampy says it's out there with the DOT crew. Guess we better head that way...

Deputy: No hurry. I saw a big bird take off when I passed that work crew just now. Sure didn't know it was the bearded duck...


My name is Stacie. said...

Is there really a bird called a bearded duck? Are pelicans usually aggressive?

swamp4me said...

Hi Stacie,
No, the "bearded duck" was just a description that the folks calling 911 were using. We're a little far inland for pelicans so people weren't expecting to see one.
I don't know if pelicans are aggressive or not, I've never been around any. This one was not aggressive at all. He just seemed to like company. Still, it did have that big hook on the end of its bill...better safe than sorry :)

Stacie said...

I agree. You wouldn't think so, but birds can be scary. We have Canada Geese that nest on our pond in the spring. Once one came at me, a few feet in the air, wings spread and hissing, and I ran like a girl. Oh wait, I am a girl. But usually not one who scares easily!

woverman said...

Just thought I would let you know that not all DOT workers would be scared of the "bearded duck". He actually looks kind of friendly!

swamp4me said...

I have met quite a few people who are actually terrified of birds - sort of sad, really. And about the hissing Canada goose, those guys bite! I have had many an encounter with them and always try to have something in hand to fend them off ;)

Now you know I would never make a negative comment about DOT employees... ;)

tai haku said...


Pelicans down here can get pretty pushy - they often learn where people clean fish and hang around. Friendly as anything as long as you have fish heads but I guess the pushiness could be intimidating in the absence of food to distract them with.

swamp4me said...

tai haku,
It was pretty hilarious. We are about 20 miles inland from the sound so pelicans are not seen here too often. Since this was a young bird I figured he must have followed the river inland and then taken a wrong turn onto the four-lane. Sure set that road crew back ;)

Anonymous said...

What a funny story! I can't believe there are people who are afraid of birds!!!! I was bitten by a duck as a child, but I just love them now! I have also been chased by geese and swans, and although they are quite strong and can do damage, they are beautiful!

Love your Blog! I drop by once in a while to enjoy the pictures and learn something!


swamp4me said...

Hi Robyn,
You'd be surprised by the number of people I have talked to who are really frightened by birds -- even chickens!
Glad you like the blog -- come by anytime!