GoPro and Big Bird: Watch what happens when a pelican learns to fly

A camera strapped to an injured bird's beak captures the moment it takes off for a triumphant return to the skies
  • @jjvincent

The GoPro has long been the go-to camera for capturing extreme sports – but this latest video filmed with the device shows something equally breath-taking: an injured bird learning to fly again.

Big Bird the pelican was hurt when he got sucked up by a storm in Tanzania and ended up stranded on a beach by Lake Tanganyika, the second largest lake in the world that covers territory in four different African countries.

The three-month-old bird was taken in by the staff at Greystoke Mahale, a safari camp at the base of the Mahale Mountains.

“He couldn't fish without his flock,” wrote staff in a blog post. “This species doesn't dive for fish, instead they corral the fish co-operating with each other and then scoop the cornered prey into their large stretchy pouches below the bill.”

Staff got permission to feed Big Bird but say that he didn’t do any flying “for some weeks” and had to encourage him to take off by running up and down the beach flapping their arms.

“We aren't sure how much flying he may have already done before arriving here but he was pretty shaky in his next attempts on the beach.”

Staff say his first flights were “short and uncontrolled” and they “would look away when he was landing as he seemed to not distinguish between ground and air speed, coming in way too fast.”

Luckily for us though, he soon got some more experience and – with a lightweight GoPro camera strapped to his beak – took this amazing footage of a triumphant flight around the lake.

The camera seems to be ideally suited to capturing amazing aerial footage, and as well as Big Bird, we’ve also seen footage from an eagle flying above the mountains of Chamonix, and what happens when a striated caracara steals a GoPro by accident.