Notes from Dans Travels in California: Birds Bathing in the Malibu lagoon

Birds Bathing in the Malibu lagoon:

Cali BirdsToday, after seeking campsites and natural areas along the California coast, I found myself in the Malibu Lagoon. It was mesmerizing to see where all the birds come to do their rituals, hundreds of seagulls, and pelicans. I watched as the seagulls and pelicans bathed in the shallow waters. As I realized what was happening, I took out my binoculars and tracked one Seagull as it literally went one by one to several bathing stations, and an organized bathing system gently revealed itself. It was a task to keep focused on one seagull of so many, and as I contemplated the fiasco, I realized how important it is, biologically, for nature to mix up genes and offer a color mutation or variation which would enable someone to track and observe them. This would enable more people to see such a thing. If there was one black seagull, we could track its behavior and intent. Again a sign how the magic of diversity in nature can teach us so much, if we ask the right questions. One question, how do they collectively know to do such a thing?

As I studied and focused in on this one, I watched it go from a self-dunking station, where every bird was bobbing and undulating to get water all over themselves, to the wading area to pluck each damaged feather systematically in shallow water. It seemed like this little bit of water helped to get the feathers off their beak.  They then would fly to the beach to preen and clean themselves, to shake and fluff their entire bodies. The whole ritual probably takes each seagull about an hour, and I was amazed that I never even considered that such a thing occurred. It reminded me of being in India where the scene on the Ganga is always occurring in the same, people bathe in droves in the same way. This is a kind of community cleansing, and within it there is an intelligent, sophisticated and organized ritual, which literally is self-known and self-broadcast throughout the species. This kind of field knowledge is profound to watch, and would never be seen without a careful and systematic attempt to ask the right questions. Where does this organized intention come from?

California Wetlands Habitat borderThe pelicans do the same thing. They have their own rhythm and ritual, as they have evolved long beaks, something unique to them which is a biological innovation perhaps dating to millions of years ago.  I watched astonished as a pelican cleaned its entire body with the back of its head and its beak, reaching every space around its body. Of course!  It was a miraculous yoga to see it move and turn those million-year-old muscles that it evolved in its neck for the purpose.


Plant Blessings,


Feb 1, 2016

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About Dan

Dan De Lion is an earth herbalist, forager, musician, and teacher. He teaches through Return to Nature, providing classes, lectures, and seminars on wild food foraging, mushroom identification, herbal medicine making, as well as primitive and survival skills with a focus on wild foods and forest medicines. He also incorporates the philosophies of yoga, alchemy, meditation, and mysticism into his classes, lectures, and seminars and brings a deep rooted indigenous medicine perspective of practicing intuition with plants, in a systematic and earth-based way – Check out more at
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