Last modified on 14 September 2014, at 16:57


Nature's prime favourites were the Pelicans;
High-fed, long-lived, and sociable and free.

Pelicans are large water birds notable for their large throat pouch, belonging to the bird family Pelecanidae.


  • A wonderful bird is the pelican,
    His bill will hold more than his belican,
    He can take in his beak
    Enough food for a week
    But I'm damned if I see how the helican!
    • Dixon Lanier Merritt (1910), authorship noted in L. J. Davenport, John C. Hallm Nature Journal (2010), p. 137; variation reported in print as a miscellany in The Paper and Pulp Makers' Journal: Volume 12 (1912), p. 34. Often quoted as "A funny old bird" and with variations in the last line such as "I don't understand how the helican!"
  • Nature's prime favourites were the Pelicans;
    High-fed, long-lived, and sociable and free.
  • Nimbly they seized and secreted their prey,
    Alive and wriggling in the elastic net,
    Which Nature hung beneath their grasping beaks;
    Till, swoln with captures, the unwieldy burden
    Clogg'd their slow flight, as heavily to land,
    These mighty hunters of the deep return'd.
    There on the cragged cliffs they perch'd at ease,
    Gorging their hapless victims one by one;
    Then full and weary, side by side, they slept,
    Till evening roused them to the chase again.
  • The nursery of brooding Pelicans,
    The dormitory of their dead, had vanish'd,
    And all the minor spots of rock and verdure,
    The abodes of happy millions, were no more.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical QuotationsEdit

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 592.
  • What, wouldst thou have me turn pelican, and feed thee out of my own vitals?
  • By them there sat the loving pelican,
    Whose young ones, poison'd by the serpent's sting,
    With her own blood to life again doth bring.

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