BotB IV: Pelicans, Anhinga, Cormorants & Gannets

Pelicans, Anhinga, Cormorants & Gannets
Families:Pelecanidae (Pelicans), Anhingadae (Anhingas), Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants), Sulidae (Gannets & Boobies), Fregatidae (Frigatebirds)
# of Species: 14
Species Seen / Photographed: 8 / 8

The Pelecaniformes are probably the most diverse group on this list, encompassing 5 families of distinct birds. The whole group consists of fish-eating birds who live and spend a majority of their time in or around water, across the United States. I’ve been lucky enough to see a large number of them although I’ve yet to have a quantifiable ID of any of those in Sulidae yet.


I get to see Brown Pelicans every year in NC flying over my parents beach house — and yet it’s still hard to get a really killer shot (at least one that I find to be killer). White Pelicans are less common – I have to head much further south to see them. But either one is very cool – these huge, lumbering tanks of birds flying low over the waves, wing tips just barely touching.



Anhinga are a rare bird for me – I’ve only seen them in Florida and Texas, and only had a single change to photograph them – not my best work.
I Believe I Can Fly


Cormorants are a frequent visitor to NJ, so I’ve had lots of chances to see Double-crested and Great Cormorants, the latter usually hanging out at Barnegat in winter. I had never realized how common the double-crested cormorant was until I started birding in earnest and realized that they are pretty much anywhere there’s a decent-sized river, lake or coastline.
Dazzling (but crooked) Smile
Baby, You're a Star

A visit to Texas got me a chance to see the Neotropic Cormorant handing out at Estero Llano State Park, actually within a few yards of the place where I saw the Anhinga pictured above.
Napoleon the Cormorant

My trip to California with my friends Patty & Al Bruno gave me awesome sightings of Brandt’s Cormorants nesting along the Monterey pier, as well as their great locating of the beautiful Pelagic Cormorant right below my feet at the Monterey Aquarium.
...and I hear the school districts are good, too
Caught a little red-faced

Gannets & Boobies


Gannets & Boobies


I’ve come to expect to see northern gannet at Barnegat Light and Sunset Beach in Cape May, but those were always distant looks, ephemeral views of a bird on the horizon who was identifiable but in no way impressive.

On a pelagic trip in February 2016, we were treated to exceptional experiences with many pelagic species – but it was perhaps the gannets which gave us the greatest show. We saw numerous birds of all ages, right up to the boat.

Adult Northern Gannet in flight
1st-Winter Gannet


Sadly, I’ve been unable to catch either of the two species which come into U.S. waters, despite a few different attempts. The Brown Booby is an annual visitor to NJ, while the Red-footed Booby was sighted several times in California while I was there but I was never fortunate enough to see it.


Nope, sorry – never seen one.

For many of those remaining on my list, I’m going to have to make it to Florida again, especially the keys…


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