As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Meet Pepe and Enrique, Male Pelicans Sharing a Miami Nest for Almost 20 Years


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.

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