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PELICANS

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PINK BACKED PELICANS

  • Scientific name: Pelecanus rufescens
  • Distribution: Arabia, Africa and Madagascar

There are eight species of Pelican throughout the world.

The lower part of a Pelican's bill is a leathery pouch, called a gula.

They consume about 2kg of food per day.

THE SPECIES

There are eight species of Pelican found virtually all over the world including Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas.

HERE AT THE PARK

The species we have here at the Park is the Pink-backed Pelican, which originates from Arabia, Madagascar and Africa.

LOCATION

All birds are classed as Migrant, Resident or Vagrant. Pelicans are Vagrant, which means they will roam from place to place according to the food available to them.

Pink-backed Pelicans can be found on any body of open water where there is enough fish, and will fly on to a new area when food is scarce.

BREEDING COLONIES

Pelicans are social birds and nest as large colonies. Courtship rituals precede breeding and this is when the feathers of the Pink-backed Pelican are at their pinkest.

NESTS

The nests are built in reed beds, on sand or mud banks, on large rocks and small islets. They are simple structures, being built more solidly only if located in trees.

CHICKS

Adult Pelicans feed their chicks by regurgitating half-digested fish into their bill-pouch. The chicks help themselves, their whole heads and necks disappearing inside the bill to find food.

FEEDING HABITS

The lower part of a Pelican's bill is a leathery pouch, called a gula, used both as a fishing net and as a feeding bowl for the chicks.

DIET

Pelicans eat a variety of fish, salamanders, frogs and small invertebrates. They consume about 2kg of food per day.

DIVING

The skin and bones of Pelicans are filled with air, and this makes diving for fish difficult for them. They prefer to scoop up food found near the surface using their large pouches. Certain species of Pelican sometimes unite with other flocks of birds to frighten fish into shallow water for easier catching.

FLIGHT

  • WINGS: The Pelican is one of the world's largest flying birds with a wing span of over three metres.
  • FLIGHT: Pelicans take off into the air with difficulty, being such heavy birds, but once they are in flight they fly well, with a few wing-beats alternating with glides. They fly with their heads pulled back over their chests rather than stretching out their necks.
  • FLOCKS: When flying as a flock, Pelicans use a slanting line as a formation. Birds take turns to relieve the leader when it tires.