White Pelican Harassing a Great Blue Heron
Nature,  Photo Stories

The Story Behind the Photo: White Pelican Harassing a Great Blue Heron

I was photographing White Pelicans on the Mississippi River.  There were also several Egrets and Great Blue Herons fishing in a shallow bay below the levee.  The Mississippi river was near flood stage and the river was flowing quickly, so the White Pelicans were also in the shallow bay this evening.

White Pelican Harassing a Great Blue Heron

All of a sudden, one White Pelican decided to leave his flock and fly right toward a Great Blue Heron fishing in the bay.  The Pelican landed right next to the Heron with a splash chasing the Great Blue Heron away.

What surprised me was the size of the White Pelican next to the Great Blue Heron.  I always thought of a Great Blue Heron and a really big bird.  However, the White Pelican seems to dwarf the Heron.  The Pelican hasn’t completely landed so it is a bit deceiving, but the White Pelican still looks quite a bit larger than the Great Blue Heron.

I was interested in whether this was a real size difference between the species or just perception.  Here are the size stats from the iBird Plus App.

Size of a Great Blue Heron

Size: 32 – 72 inches
Length Range:  46 – 52 inches
Weight: 91.2 ounces

Size of an American White Pelican

Size: 32 – 72 inches
Length Range:  60 – 63 inches
Weight: 246.4 ounces

White the height is the same between the two species the White Pelican is significantly longer and is more than 3 times the weight of the Heron.

Great Blue Heron & White Pelican Photo Details

Camera:  Canon 5d Mark iii
Lens:   Canon 500 mm f/4
Focal Length:  500mm
ISO:  800
Aperture:   f/10.0
Shutter Speed: 1/1250 of a second
Exposure Compensation: +1/3
Lighting: Cloudy Evening

Bird Photo Processing

  • Cropped the photo in Lightroom 5.
  • Reduce noise in the photo using the Noise Reduction Luminance slider in Lightroom 5.
  • Used Google Viveza 2 to selectively lighten, darken, and add saturation to the photo.
  • Added Detail, Saturation, and contrast to the image using the Detail Extractor Filter in Color Efex Pro 4.
  • Used Topaz DeNoise and a Layer Mask in Photoshop CC to selectively remove the noise from the photo.
  • Selectively sharpened the image using the Unsharp filter and a layer mask in Photoshop CC.

Written by Martin Belan

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