Pelicans are my new favorite bird. Yes, cardinals, blue jays and goldfinches are much more colorful. As are macaws, flamingos and even parakeets. The peacock’s plumage puts the drab-colored pelican to shame in that respect. Bald eagles seem much more dignified. But every time I’ve gone to the beach, whether on the Atlantic or Gulf coasts, I’ve felt a sense of wonderment watching pelicans – alone or in groups – soaring aloft.
Bobbing in the ocean or on dry land, pelicans are rather silly-looking creatures. Long beaks and tiny eyes. However, when flying in formation whether overhead, riding the wind currents, or skimming the waves while seeking fish for their next meal, there’s something majestic about them.
A casual glance at a pelican at rest might remind the observer of an engineer’s worst nightmare.
Their pencil-shaped beaks and beady eyes don’t evoke images of beauty. But in action, it’s obvious these creatures – actually eight different varieties within the species Pelecanus, I recently learned – are designed with perfection.
The beak allows the bird to cut through the air with a minimum of wind resistance that a NASCAR body shop would envy. Its long, wide-sweeping wings enable it to float on high with virtually no effort, and its eyes – small as they are – provide piercing vision for quickly pouncing on prey swimming below. The lower portion of its beak features a large throat pouch for holding and preparing little “groceries” for consumption. “Paper or plastic – or pouch?”
In addition, pelicans instinctively know how to travel in flocks and hunt cooperatively. Watching them along Florida’s panhandle, in formation they look as beautiful as precision-flown jets sometimes seen coming from the Pensacola Navy Base.
What strikes me most is that the pelican couldn’t have resulted from some cosmic accident. Too many exacting characteristics to have all combined together conveniently, no matter how many eons were allotted.
In the first chapter of Genesis, it says God created all the animals, including “the fish of the sea and the birds of the air,” not only giving each a unique design but also ordaining what and how they would eat (Genesis 1:26-30). Can you imagine the Lord exercising His divine creativity and deciding the shapes and colors and traits of birds, ranging from the noble eagle to the busy hummingbird to the pretty in pink but gawky-looking flamingo to the pelican?
The psalmist David in Psalm 139:14 writes of humankind being “fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” According to the Scriptures, people are the apex of His creation, but it seems to me the “fearfully and wonderfully made” description applies to everything we observe in nature, from the industrious beaver and goofy-looking platypus to moray eels and puppies. (Still not sure where mosquitoes fit into the equation.)
For the non-believer who demands, “Prove there is a God!”, I would first respond, “Prove there isn’t a God.” Then I would say something like, “Have you considered the pelican?”
Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly re-published, “Business At Its Best,” “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. To read more of Bob Tamasy’s writings, you can visit his blog, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, or his website (now being completed), www.bobtamasy-readywriterink.com. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.