As we wait for Gwen to finish repainting the Sistine Chapel, I thought it might be a good time for one of my rare (yet presumably delightful) digressions. Let us contemplate the pelican. Here’s what I know about them.

  • One of the most famous portraits of Queen Elizabeth I is called the “Pelican Portrait” because she is wearing a pendant of a pelican. People in the 16th century believed that female pelicans would peck their breasts to feed their blood to their chicks in times of famine  In an impressive piece of propaganda, the pelican in the painting represents Queen Elizabeth’s devotion to her people.


  • Pelicans fly along the shoreline in a single file line that can stretch to over a dozen birds, which looks very cool.


  • They eat fish.

Presumably that is sufficient pelican knowledge for the average person. A few days ago, however, Super Hub (who curates the internet for me) sent me a video that vastly broadened my appreciation for these impressive birds.

The scene is graduation at Pepperdine University, which is famous for its gorgeous location right on the California coastline. Whoever decided to put the university there did not know about the legal doctrine of “coming to the nuisance.” Simply put, you can’t move in next to a stockyard and then complain about the smell: the idea being that if you know there’s an issue with a location you have to put up with it if you decide to settle there anyway. So is the beach a nuisance? It has a lot of sand, salt water, and flies, so I would say yes, although others might differ. It also has pelicans who were there first. Apparently they don’t like it when a bunch of people set up folding chairs in their territory while others march around in blue caps and gowns. Take a look.

A few observations. First, the man who hits the bird is 1) an idiot and 2) very lucky. Pro tip: don’t antagonize a bird that has a beak the length of your arm, especially when you’re in its territory. Second, Ms. Cap & Gown now has the coolest graduation photo ever. Third, I had no idea pelicans were so fabulous. Not many creatures can pull off being vastly annoying, cocky, and charming at the same time. Crows, of course, have mastered this skill. Who knew pelicans had similar talents?