As a child I remember either my mum, or my Nanna (or possibly both) quoting a few lines about a pelican. It stuck with me. I can’t remember if they ever quoted the whole limerick by Dixon Lanier Merritt, but I certainly remember the start.
“A wonderful bird is the Pelican.
His beak can hold more than his belly can.
He can hold in his beak
Enough food for a week!
But I’ll be darned if I know how the hellican?”
I have recently noticed that I am quite enamoured with the pelicans that spend time on our river. I especially love the fact that over the winter months the pelican numbers swell from the half a dozen that seem to reside here all year round, to up to two hundred that can be seen on the waterfront.
They are quite large and intimidating to look at, probably due to their very long beak with the hook on the end, and their body is quite stocky but (fortunately) on land they can’t run any faster than a quick waddle. In the air, however, their impressive 3 metre wingspan gives them a great deal of grace and I could watch them land on the water, with their webbed feet extended out like an airplane’s landing gear for ages.
At our favourite café by the water there is a stretch of grass on the riverbank where the pelicans will come and sleep or groom themselves and to see them manoeuvre their long beak is incredibly interesting. Their neck is so very flexible that they can reach feathers both back and front to clean them and you know they’re asleep when they slide their beak along their spine and nestle their face between their wings, literally facing 180º from their front. It is a true feat of agility that amazes me every time I see it.
They are famous for their pouch under their beak where they can scoop up water and food and they have the ability to swallow their food completely whole. It will take a while with what looks like gulps and yawns but they are able to use the muscles in their throat to move their prey to the right position to slip down for further digestion. I did believe that they only ate fish, but a friend recently shared how he saw a pelican scoop up and eat a seagull, which is both frighteningly true and impressive.
I could go on about the phenomenal features of this bird because they captivate me as I observe them, but that is not my intended point. You see, I find the pelican a blessing because every time I watch them in their habitat I am reminded of the creator God who could have given us one or two standard variety creatures but instead has given us a plethora of amazing things to discover in our natural world. Each variation has it’s own specialities and brings something amazing to our environment.
God doesn’t stop there, he has done the same with people. We are all unique individuals that bring to the table some special and dynamic qualities. Often we don’t recognise what we have, or it’s worth, but He does. He has made us so. We also don’t always see the ordinary things we do as anything special, but others observing us can be amazed. Psalm 139 and verse 14 says “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
You may not have a beak that can hold more than your belly can, but you are a feat of God’s brilliance and creativity. Remember that today.