Say hello to Big Bird.
Around four months ago, this Great White pelican toddled up onto the beach of Lake Tanganyika, at Tanzania's Greystoke Mahale safari camp, apparently after a powerful storm blew him far from his home.
He was only around three months old at the time, thus inexperienced in the ways of the world. Since Great White pelicans fish cooperatively, dipping their bills into the water in a kind of horseshoe-shaped 'corral' to catch their meals, Big Bird's separation from his flock would have made it very difficult for him to find food. The staff of the camp got permission from the local park authority to take care for him, and now that he's more grown up, they've been teaching him to fly.
According to the safari's blog:
He didn't fly for some weeks but with encouragement he got the idea. We aren't sure how much flying he may have already done before arriving here but he was pretty shaky in his next attempts on the beach. We would run up and down flapping our arms and simulating flight for him. He would look on curiously until one day he showed us how it was done! It was short and uncontrolled and we would look away when he was landing as he seemed to not distinguish between ground and air speed coming in way too fast and endangering our beach furniture.
Here's the video of Big Bird taking flight, with a small camera strapped to his bill to capture the bird's-eye view (or at least the view of his bird eyes):
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This is a great video and the footage of Big Bird taking to the air for the first time is just incredible. As he's flying around, nearly skimming the lake's surface, I have to wonder what he's thinking about the camera strapped to his bill, or if he realizes the inspiring view he's provided for his adopted 'flock' and for the rest of us who (without the help of technology) are suck with our feet on the ground.
Clear skies, Big Bird, and happy fishing.
(Photo and video courtesy: Greystoke Mahale)
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