Pelican Head Throw

See my Guide to Photographing Pelicans in La Jolla.

Here are a few photos of California brown pelicans performing the pelican head throw, also known as the pelican bill throw. It looks painful. The brown pelican lifts its large bill up, arches its neck back until the throat gular pouch is stretched and taut, holds this position for a moment, and lowers its bill again. Sometimes it will open its jaw during the head throw, other times it will precede or follow the bill throw by bending its neck such that the throat pouch is turned inside out. Strange. Check out this bird, it is one of my favorite species and truly bizarre. I’ve seen one bird photo specialist refer to the head throw behaviour as “elusive”, however in my experience the head throw is quite easy to capture on film provided you are reasonably observant and can put your lens on the subject in a timely manner.

Brown pelican head throw.  During a bill throw, the pelican arches its neck back, lifting its large bill upward and stretching its throat pouch, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican head throw. During a bill throw, the pelican arches its neck back, lifting its large bill upward and stretching its throat pouch.
Image ID: 15124
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

Brown pelican head throw.  During a bill throw, the pelican arches its neck back, lifting its large bill upward and stretching its throat pouch, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, La Jolla, California

Brown pelican head throw. During a bill throw, the pelican arches its neck back, lifting its large bill upward and stretching its throat pouch.
Image ID: 15179
Species: Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus
Location: La Jolla, California, USA

See more photos of brown pelicans.

Keywords: pelican, brown pelican, California brown pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, Pelecanus occidentalis californicus, pelican head throw, bill throw, La Jolla.