One evening Elena took an interest in a book that she had seen lying around many times, the Pocket Guide to Familiar Birds of Lakes and Rivers, and asked me to read it with her. It wasn’t a book with a story, so we just looked at the pictures and I told her all the birds’ names.

At the beginning of the book, just after the loons and grebes, there was a picture of two white pelicans. For whatever reason, the pelicans both fascinated and distressed Elena. “Daddy, what’s that bird called?…Daddy, I don’t like that ‘elican…it’s not a friendly ‘elican.” But after every few pages, she wanted to go back and look at the pelicans again. No other birds got close to the same reaction from her.

A few days later we took advantage of the unseasonably warm weather to take a walk by the river after nap time. At first it was going to be just Elena and me, but Jenny and Roman woke up in time to join us. There are lots of fun things to do by the river, and we did most of them: We said hello to the birds and the other people on the trail, picked up sticks and rocks to throw in the water, and took lots of pictures as we meandered down the path.

Then Jenny noticed something in the distance–one bird was much bigger than the others. Could it be? Did we dare to hope? I looked at it through the camera with my lens on maximum zoom, but still couldn’t be sure, so we went closer, as close as we could. It was a pelican! He spent a few minutes hanging out with the seagulls before slipping into the water and paddling downstream towards his home.

On the walk back to the car, Elena talked about how much she liked pelicans now, because the one we saw was so friendly and said hi to her.


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