While whales in the Klamath river are unusual and a bit scary for fear Mama will be trapped, I hope you weren't so busy watching whales that you missed the flight school taking place in the harbor.
I may not have known of it if Barbara hadn't shared her experience. Her account was so evocative that I had to dash right down and see it, and so beautiful that I asked her permission to share it with you.
"After breakfast at Good Harvest, we went over to the harbor to see the progress. We parked on the far north side to soak up the sights and smells. I noticed a huge pelican, who seemed to be swooping aimlessly around. Then I noticed a tiny bird flapping wildly, just barely keeping airborne, trying to catch her.
"At first that fit my experience of a smaller bird chasing a larger
bird away from the nest. But pelicans don't raid other birds' nests -
they eat fish they catch fresh. On closer observation I realized that it
was her baby, flapping desperately to keep up with Mama. She was
teaching him to fly!
"After much flailing, he fell into the water and bobbed up, clearly
resting. She made one last swooping circle, and plopped into the water
right next to him, clacking away in soft mothering tones.
"After awhile, she flew again, looked back over her wing, and made
several encouraging calls. He worked himself up by paddling and flapping
frantically, and finally got into the air.
"This time the lesson was in how to turn. She made wide, gentle
turns, while baby flapped panicky behind and turned so sharply that his
momentum had him flying backwards for a moment, then stalled, and then
got to flapping again just before belly-flopping into the water. She
alternately encouraged and scolded him as he slowly learned to turn and
"We drove onto the fishing pier, and off to the left, well protected
in the shallow water, where at least 60 pelicans, each with a miniature
version of herself, paddling around and enjoying community life. Never
in all my years by the sea had I seen mother and baby pelicans, much
less getting to watch flight school!"
The show was every bit as good as its reviews. The babies are getting
larger now, but their heads still have soft, brown baby down. They're
now a perfect model of our beloved prehistoric looking bird. They float
effortlessly inches above the water and dive like they've been thrown
off the dock.
Young cormorants were also getting flight lessons. All cormorants
stretch out their elegant necks and fly rapidly, but youngsters flap so
fast their wings are a blur.
At-home flight lessons continue. Baby jays now look like unmade beds,
with fluffy down sticking out all over. Some are so young their heads
and capes are still brown.
"Summertime, and the livin' is easy. Fish are jumpin,'" and there's
so much to watch!
Reach Inez Castor, a longtime Triplicate columnist, at