Two male brown pelicans at a rescue center in Florida have partnered to build a nest and try to hatch an egg this season — and it’s not the pair's first time doing so!
According to a report in LGBTQ Nation, Pepe and Enrique chose each other yet again to construct a nest and care for the placebo egg provided by staff at the Pelican Harbor Seabird Station in Miami. Pelicans are seasonally monogamous, staying with one partner during mating season but choosing a different mate the following season. Pepe and Enrique clearly have something deeper in their same-sex relationship, though, as they’ve chosen to build a seasonal home together for 18 years straight.
“They are our beautiful special boys,” Hannah McDougall, director of communications at Pelican Harbor, told LGBTQ Nation. “They’ve been building a nest together. They take turns incubating a fake egg that we give them. They’re in love, they’re inseparable and always by each other’s side.”
The two brown pelicans have lived at Pelican Harbor for nearly two decades. The wildlife facility specializes in brown pelicans but also rehabilitates other birds and wildlife as well. Most residents are temporary, obtaining much-needed medical care before being returned to the wild. Pepe and Enrique, however, are permanent residents, both suffering from improperly healed wings that prevent them from flying.
“It’s a condition that we call ‘angel wing’ because rather than sitting flush against their body, their wing will stick out kind of like an angel’s wing,” McDougall explained, adding the two love-struck pelicans share Pelican Harbor as “a permanent residence” with 13 other birds who are “non-releasable” into the wild.
Since most pelicans live up to 30 years in captivity on average, it appears the two birds have decided to be friends and mates for life. Despite the fact they can’t produce eggs of their own, the pair have proven to be expert parents in a pinch. McDougall explained the two helped Pelican Harbor foster dozens of orphaned pelicans following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.
While same-sex relationships between brown pelicans are rare, there’s plenty of other species which such relationship are not uncommon. Two lesbian penguins at the Oceanogràfic Aquarium in Valencia, Spain named Electra and Viola incubated and hatched an adopted egg and raised the cute little penguin all on their own. Not to be outdone, two gay penguins stole an entire nest with an egg in their quest to raise a family. And last year a woman in England realized two of her female chickens were lesbian partners in a heartwarming story of poultry romance.
If you’d like to reach out and become more involved with Pepe and Enrique, they are available for ceremonial adoption to the public. The cost is $300, which will help offset the expense of feeding and caring for the couple for roughly a year. The ceremonial foster parents will receive a special adoption certificate and photos, and the special feeling the comes with being part of a loving family.
You can also watch the gay love birds as they putter about the home and nest at the Pelican Harbor Seabird Station via the live stream feed below.