This short description is from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology:
The Brown Pelican is a comically elegant bird with an oversized bill, sinuous neck, and big, dark body. Squadrons glide above the surf along southern and western coasts, rising and falling in a graceful echo of the waves. They feed by plunge-diving from high up, using the force of impact to stun small fish before scooping them up. They are fairly common today—an excellent example of a species’ recovery from pesticide pollution that once placed them at the brink of extinction.
Pelican-watching is one of my favorite things to do at the beach. I watch as they flap and glide in odd-numbered patterns: flap, flap, flap, flap, G-L-I-D-E. They fly in synchronous rhythms without rush or panic. It calms me to follow their journey over the breaking waves. If I look further out to sea, I often see the brown pelican making its unique head-first dive into the water. It seems to stop mid-air, turn 90 degrees to the ocean floor, and plunge to catch a fish. The splash is a clean entry that any diving coach would be proud of. Sometimes it makes me laugh.
It was while watching brown pelicans off the Outer Banks of North Carolina that an impression came which saved my family. At least saved us from one kind of pain. The impression was simple, “Don’t leave.” The kids played in the waves and sand. My husband and son played paddleball. I watched and knew I had been given a gift, an answer. We would stay together.
Now, thirty years later, I still remember that day, that decision, made while watching pelicans.