With Keith Carlson, Terry O'Halloran, and Catherine Temple. Larry Hamrin found the bird earlier in the day, called Keith who refound it and who called me. 8 additional people reported it in eBird through June 17.
LOCALITY OF OBSERVATION
Mann Lake, east of Lewiston Orchards, Nez Perce County
HABITAT WHERE THE BIRD WAS OBSERVED
Small (35 acre) irrigation reservoir set on a relatively flat mesa area above the confluence of Clearwater River and Lapwai Creek. Mostly cereal grain dry land agriculture with other crops and a few patches of grassy and shrubby habitat. The reservoir is lined with dense seasonally-inundated willows along its east and south sides, and the pelican often hung out and foraged in these dense willows.
SIGHTING DURATION, CONDITIONS, and EQUIPMENT USED
~20 minutes at close range under clear calm conditions.
DID YOU TAKE NOTES?
No, not at all
DID YOU CONSULT A FIELD GUIDE OR OTHER REFERENCE WORK?
Yes, during the observation
WHICH GUIDE(S) OR REFERENCE(S): DID YOU CONSULT?
I was looking at my Sibley Guide iPhone app, mostly to see if there was any way to make a subspecific determination.
DESCRIPTION OF THE BIRD(s)
Written from memory: huge bird with the distinctive shape of a pelican (White Pelican present nearby for easy comparison). The bird was was a bit smaller than the A. White. Characteristic longish neck, huge elongated bill, and huger throat pouch. The bird was chocolate brown overall with lots of white mottling on the upperparts, from lots of pale edged mantle feathers. Pale brown below fading to white-ish on the undertail. The bill and throat pouch were yellowish green and the facial skin a bit blue around the eye and lores. Please refer to photos.
BEHAVIOR OF THE BIRD(s)
I drove straight to Mann Lake from the office, and when I arrived the bird was "missing". We waited and scanned and scanned and waited. I soon decided to go around to the north side of the lake to better scope the dense willows on the south and southeast side. I quickly found the bird floating in the water among and go in and out of the flooded willows. It was inconspicuous and would sometimes disappear in the vegetation. We all went around to the south side of the lake and viewed the bird at close range. It continued to move back and forth among the willows, sometimes foraging from on the water (apparently successfully), scooping fish up from the shallows. Keith reported that it plunge-dove at least once or twice before I arrived.
HOW AND WHEN DID YOU POSITIVELY IDENTIFY THE BIRD, AND WHAT CLINCHED THE IDENTIFICATION FOR YOU?
As soon as I saw it, it was obvious that it was a Brown Pelican. The plumage didn't look stained, altered, or abnormal in any way. It looked like a brown pelican. The yellow-green-brown bill is unlike American White Pelican at any age/plumage state.
HOW DID YOU ELIMINATE SIMILAR SPECIES? WHAT WERE THEY?
We probably only need to reasonably consider American White Pelican, which the bird obviously differed from in plumage and bill/pouch cover. Even a Peruvian Pelican (escapee?) would show a brighter and yellower bill, I believe.
WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THIS (AND SIMILAR) SPECIES?
Quite extensive experience with Brown Pelican from the Pacific, Gulf Coasts, Salton Sink, NW Mexico, Baja, Neotropics. Also extremely familiar with American White Pelican.
DESCRIBE YOUR GENERAL BIRDING EXPERIENCE
Fairly advanced near every-day birder. I've served on bird records committees and as eBird reviewer in 2 states.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION (If any)
Local naturalist, Larry Hamrin, found this bird on the morning of June 11. Thanks to he and Keith Carlson for relaying the information so that it could be well-documented and so that at least a dozen other birders got to see it. Additional photos are in eBird by Larry Hamrin, Keith Carlson, Catherine Temple, Kas Dumroese, and Craig Johnson.
WERE PHOTO(S), VIDEO, AND/OR AUDIO OBTAINED FROM THIS SIGHTING?
FIRST ROUND VOTING:
Nice description and photos support ID of Brown Pelican.
excellent photos and description confirm the identification
Pictures are Diagnostic.
This was an excellent, first-rate, and convincing report.
Photograph and description good.
Excellent report with sufficient discussion on separating from White Pelican to accept in and of itself. Equally excellent photos make this an easy one.