My husband went fishing the other day (I think I mentioned that in my previous post...) and he told me this funny story about it.
He was standing on the beach just out of the surf and a brown pelican came swooping down to the beach and stood off to the side like an impatient customer. Apparently this is actually a fairly common occurrence now - not just here, but in Australia where this photo was shot:
This is not the right kind of pelican for here; here we have loads of brown pelicans (named that in spite of their heads being yellow).
So this pelican was standing there about 5 feet away tapping its feet when Darling Man caught a whiting and brought it in. As the fish came out of the water, the pelican rushed up, bill gaping, for the fish to be dropped into. Well, Darling Man wasn't about to feed this aggressive bird, but the whiting was too small to keep, so he removed the hook and gently put the fish back in the water. Pelican ran to the water and snapped the poor little whiting out of the surf and ran back to his station about 5 feet away and gulped it down. Then he did the pelican equivalent of a "hmmpphh" and took off.
Why not feed the bird? you might ask.
Well, we live in the South. There are all kinds of wildlife in the South and there's plenty of it that you don't want to get too chummy with. My husband had two small children with him - and that pelican could have injured one of them in the quest for fish. But some fishermen had obviously been feeding it or he never would have behaved that way in the first place.
Probably best known as a do-not-feed animal is our common neighbor:
When I was a little girl, we used to walk down to a small in-town lake to feed the ducks stale bread. And there was an alligator in this lake named George. George liked marshmallows, but didn't like stale bread. It was fun to watch George go after what you threw in the lake, and hysterical to watch him spit out the bread when he discovered it wasn't a marshmallow. Then George decided he liked baby ducks. The citizens of town weren't happy, but figured it was nature's way. Then George thought he might try a small child. Bye, George.
You see, this is the danger of feeding wild animals. They forget how to feed themselves and begin depending on us to provide them with sustenance. And they forget that they are indeed wild animals. They lose their fear of humans, which is the only thing that keeps them from considering us food. If they lose their fear, there is no reason to avoid us. And maybe, just maybe, people would be delicious.
That's also why there are signs like this posted at nearly every natural water feature in this area:
So while my husband's story was funny (especially with the re-enactment he did), it's also a bit of a cautionary tale.. Don't feed the animals!!!!!