The Evolved Pelican

[Click to hear Loren read this post: The Evolved Pelican]

A Japanese scholar once said “The art of life is constant readjusting to your surroundings.”

Another weekend, another day at the beach. And, if possible, it was prettier than last weekend. Last week’s dolphins were replaced by this week’s brown pelicans. Starting in the late afternoon, small schools of fish were easy pickings for the feathered dive bombers. Every few seconds another seabird splashed down only to struggle back into flight before torpedoing back again…and again. To be an effective predator, you gotta get more calories out of your food than it takes to chase it. Lumbering back into the sky over and over is not much of a living. I’ve always been surprised that pelicans have succeeded as a species—but I’m so happy that they have. They’re the peaceful Air Force that keeps watch, shadowing our coast hour after daylight hour.

In the middle of today’s pelican fishing, I noticed one that looked really bad. It was sitting dejectedly outside a camper van at the beach. It looked like it had smelled its last smelt and was about to take a trip skyward on angel’s wings instead of its own. When my kids arrived for our beach picnic, I mentioned the pelican to Hannah, who said “Dad? Aren’t you going to try and save it?” Which got me to thinking about a question that often baffles me: “Do species ultimately suffer when humans interfere with the sick and dying?” Anyway, back to the suffering pelican; I decided, for the kids’ sake, I better call Sea World or whoever it is that saves pelicans (by the way, their number is 619-226-3910). And as I was looking out to sea, making the phone call—a warm rush of feathers passed by my head. Turns out the damn pelican didn’t need rescuing after all. Apparently, it shows up at the same time, at the same van everyday for dinner. He’s way more highly evolved than his pelican pals: He’s trained a human to feed him—no calories expended at all. So what did I learn from my day at the beach? Survival requires adaptation.

Adapt and rule.



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30 comments on “The Evolved Pelican
  1. Chuck Helsel says:

    Loren, It was really fun listening to this posting. Thanks. I had a different phone number in my phone for Sea World. Maybe 800-541-7325 is for the Seals that come ashore. I have been fooled a number of times by Pelicans who appear ill when I show up on their deserted beach.

  2. How can these amazing animals appear to be so awkward on land. Nearly prehistoric. Take to flight and they are the most beautiful, graceful creatures on Earth and in the skies. I love them. I saw them on Saturday…not a tad self conscious…hanging in Cardiff with sleeker and leaner cousins like Terns and Gulls. They bring me endless pleasure.

  3. Brenda says:

    Now THAT’S funny! 🙂 enjoyed this

  4. Cathy Eischen says:

    LOVE reading your blog. You are able to put your thought and days insights so beautifully into simple yet eloquent words. I’m traveling this journey with you, through your words. In my mind I see you and your family. I relive my families journey… and smile. Every day is a blessing. Thank you for sharing your blessings with us.:D

  5. tere tangeman says:

    (nodding my head) Beautiful.

  6. Nancy Fetterman says:

    A beautiful Tuesday and much appreciated day off listening to your voice sharing with all of us such a lovely pelican experience. I think you are such a gifted writer and story teller. Thank you.

  7. says:

    What a wonderful parable! We also were at the beach early one morning, searching for signs of whales and dolphins. They too had been replaced with the fascinating brown pelicans-everywhere. Flying close to the bluff they were magnificent in their prehistoric splendor. I will never watch them again without thinking about your post! Thank you for the lovely piece and wishing you blessed healing.

  8. Susie Sauritch says:

    Loren, we’ve met several times over the years, ran into you and Susie twice @ Toby Keith, seen you around town, our kids are close in age…..I wish you well and an easy recovery, looking forward to running into you again over the next 20 or so years….chose blue for nails and toes this weekend……It seems so right…Made me smile… the podcast, you sound great and can hear the wheels turning in your mind….isn’t it amazing how many people you don’t even know have you in their thoughts and prayers…you are loved….

  9. Marti Wilmot says:

    Loren, I only know you from channel 10, when I fell in love, but you have always been in my heart even though my husband is a little jealous! (I remind you again, you lost me with Fox) – but, maybe on some level we know each other – however it is, you make me smile – keep writing and I hope you can spend as much time as possible at the beach. I love to look at the patterns and the colors in the sand. I am so glad you saw the dolphins last week- they bring good……….and – take your dogs to the beach at Coronado if you can – the dogs will make you smile!

  10. Patti Smiley says:

    a wonderful bird is a pelican
    he can put more in his beak
    than he can eat in a week
    and I don’t know how in the hell he can

  11. Anonymous says:

    Wonderful essay Loren. I work at La Jolla cove and spend many lunchbreaks watching the Pelicans there. They seem almost prehistoric, yet so elegant when they are soaring on the updrafts from the cliffs. Sending positive energy your way.

  12. Harvey Shapiro says:

    Loren, I enjoy your posts so much that I sure I should let you know that you need to keep them coming for a long long time. Harvey Shapiro

  13. Greg Ward says:

    Thanks for mentioning the pelicans that patrol our coastal waters. I love the California Coastal Dive Bomber Patrol! They are the most distinguished patrol along the coastal skies! Now that I’m heading back into travel mode I do a long run along the coast every weekend and one of the many sites to enjoy is the pelicans cruising the skies and skimming the waves. They usually fly with several in a formation but this weekend I noticed a solo pelican soaring along the cliffs. I wonder if this was the highly evolved one you saw. Survival does require adaption but I’m glad the pelicans still bring that ancient mariner feel to the California coast.

  14. Beth Browne says:

    Loren, today I read on my Facebook site about Ketogenic diet to cure cancer. Don’t know if you have looked into this, but according to the video, some people w/cancer have seen a cure. Go to if you are interested.

    I am a 20 year breast cancer survivor, but if it pops up again I would look into this. It, would, however, be so hard to give up sugar.

    You are in my prayers.

  15. Germaine Sarda says:

    Thanks, Loren. I was swimming out past the breakers at Torrey Pines one beautiful afternoon a few years ago and was lucky enough to be near the pelicans as they hit the water as they dove for food. They each made a splat on the water so loud that you’d think the impact would maim them! They were successful each time, so I was thankful I wasn’t fish-sized that day.

  16. Colleen Rentis says:

    I put the phone number in my phone just in case I do come across an ailing sea animal. I own parrots and have had plenty of runs down to Project Wildlife for sick birds…..Thinking of you….

  17. Nora says:

    Hooray for the brown pelicans of the world. We can all adapt to just about any new situation if we “want” to.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Loren, I have always found the pelican a fascinating but pesky bird. They are beautiflul to watch flying. I miss that. I enjoyed your experience with them. By the way, the plant I attached your name to in God’s Garden has lovely lavendar blooms and some beans growing already! Looks like your doing well, Prayer works!

  19. Nenette West says:

    My late husband and I used to see you at Chopstix on Convoy when you worked over at channel 8. You acted like you didn’t want to be bothered so people left you alone . Followed you as you made the rounds on TV. Loved your gardening tips, although when you said seaweed is good for your plants, you didn’t say NOT to cover the bucket of water with the seaweed in it. After 5 days, that water stunk to high heaven! Only Miracle Grow from then on. I wish you well!

  20. Great observation, sounds like a peaceful day. Love your posts.

  21. Anonymous says:

    From a big pelican fan, thanks, Loren!

  22. Anonymous says:

    Good story my friend!

  23. Sandra L. Simmons says:

    Love hearing your voice!

  24. Joanne Monia says:

    You rule!!!! Keep up the great work…love listening to that voice…..DON’T STOP BELIEVIN’!! 🙂

  25. Kathy says:

    I am so enjoying what you are sharing w/us and that ‘I am getting to hear from you’ w/frequency. You are a joy….and spreading it too!!

  26. Jeannie Kemper says:

    Mike, Worth the short read. Will tell you this is a beloved newscaster with brain cancer….

  27. Jim Pilling says:

    I enjoy your comments and have for several years when I lived in the San Diego area. The past year I moved to Eugene, Oregon to be closer to my two daughters and families. We both share the friendship of our families. Miss seeing you on the tube. God bless and keep thinking positive.

  28. Jackie Owens says:

    Loren: Just a thought. I found that adapting is very difficult to do. But I guess the end results is the best we can ask for. Love your posting. J

  29. Larry Grano says:

    Perfect timing, Loren. Thank you & keep it coming!

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