TERENCE CANTARELLA | APRIL 3, 2018 | 8:00AM
At Pelican Harbor Seabird Station, a wildlife rehabilitation center in North Bay Village, two birds of a feather do a lot more than just flock together.
Pepe and Enrique, both American brown pelicans from South Florida, have spent nearly two decades as a devoted same-sex couple. At the beginning of breeding season this past December, "the boys" — as their caretakers refer to them — built a nest together in the corner of the large pen where they live overlooking Biscayne Bay.
Normally, a male pelican seeking a mate performs a courtship dance and offers a stick to a female. If she accepts, the pair collaborates to build a nest, defend it, and raise their young. Pelican nests are typically less than a foot tall.
Pepe and Enrique's nest, meanwhile, stands more than two feet tall. It's not the first one they've built, but definitely the largest. The couple takes turns: One sits in it, while the other perches on a branch a few inches away. Sometimes they sit in it side-by-side.
The two arrived separately at the Seabird Station in the early 2000s. Pepe was brought in with an "angel wing" — a deformation caused by a nutritional deficiency. Enrique arrived with a "frozen wing" — an injury caused by a fishing line or hook. Unable to fly and fish, they would've starved to death in the wild.
The boys perform courtship dances and frequently consummate their relationship.