National Geographic : 1975 Jan
Bright plumage (far left) heralds the breeding season, in contrast to the pelican's more subdued costume after nesting (left). Ear ly winter finds both sexes with new feathers, straw-colored eyes ringed by pink, yellow head, and white neck. Later the neck feath ers molt to dark brown, part of a sequence that is perhaps the most elaborate color cycle in the world of aquatic birds. Bush-league pantomime: Bill and wings flashing, the pelican at right guards its nesting area-the length of an outstretched beak. Bill popping-the snapping of mandibles-punctuates the en counter atop the mangroves.