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With its distinctive, comical walk, large bill, and association with the conservation movement, the pelican has attained iconic status. But as Barbara Allen reveals, this graceful skimmer of ocean waves has a checkered history. Originally classed as "unclean" in the King James Bible, the legend of the compassionate pelican was later appropriated by Christianity to symbolize Christ's sacrifice.
This majestic bird, gifted to British royalty in 1664, has been celebrated in art and literature, from Shakespeare's King Lear to the writing of Edward Lear, and is the holder of three Guinness World Records. The pelican's anatomy has been copied for paper plane construction, aircraft design, and in 3D imaging, and its resilience is as remarkable as its make-up: the pelican has rallied against threats of extinction, habitat destruction, and environmental disasters such as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. A must-read book for all bird enthusiasts, Barbara Allen's Pelican weaves together wildlife trivia, historical tales, and the latest research to provide an engaging, many-feathered account of this emblematic bird.
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