Pelicans of Australia

Rest with a view at Woody Head, New South Wales, Australia

Rest with a view at Woody Head, New South Wales, Australia

I enjoy watching all the birds, but there’s just something about pelicans.

Resting and observing Woody Head, New South Wales, Australia

Resting and observing Woody Head, New South Wales, Australia

Admittedly, I have always been fascinated by pelicans.

Skimming through tidal pools at Brooms Head, New South Wales, Australia

Skimming through tidal pools at Brooms Head, New South Wales, Australia

These oversized waterbirds, elegant on water and in the air,

No comment on this face at Brooms Head, New South Wales, Australia

No comment on this face at Brooms Head, New South Wales, Australia

yet goofy looking on dry land.

Pick Me! Pick Me? Brooms Head, New South Wales, Australia

Pick Me! Pick Me? Brooms Head, New South Wales, Australia

Hopping around with their wings wide open to keep their balance whilst rushing to a potential food source.

Where’s the Fish? Brooms Head, New South Wales, Australia

Where’s the Fish? Brooms Head, New South Wales, Australia

This is most obvious when pelicans gather around fish cleaning areas. These are set up all across Australia at popular fishing spots.

Linedancing pelican style at Brooms Head, New South Wales, Australia

Line dancing pelican style at Brooms Head, New South Wales, Australia

There seems to be a strict pecking order in place. Hopeful to snatch a bit of fish thrown out by the fish filleting fisherman.

Got it, Brooms Head, New South Wales, Australia

Got it, Brooms Head, New South Wales, Australia

Once a piece of fish has been caught in their beak pouch,

It’s mine!, Brooms Head, New South Wales, Australia

It’s mine!, Brooms Head, New South Wales, Australia

it’s best to run off before another pelican can be challenging.

Yummo! Brooms Head, New South Wales, Australia

Yummo! Brooms Head, New South Wales, Australia

However, there won’t be much coming out of this sack.

Back in line, Brooms Head, New South Wales, Australia

Back in line, Brooms Head, New South Wales, Australia

Yummy. Back in line. 

Lower sun reflections on Moreton Island, Queensland, Australia

Lower sun reflections on Moreton Island, Queensland, Australia

Australian pelicans are seen on all off Australia’s waterways. Mostly alone or in smaller groups, they can congregate in large numbers if food is plentiful, or within the breeding season.

Floating high at Woody Head, New South Wales, Australia

Floating high at Woody Head, New South Wales, Australia

For a large flying bird, they are relatively light in weight due to air pockets in their skeletons, which explains them floating relatively high on the water.

Gliding effortlessly, Woody Head, New South Wales, Australia

Gliding effortlessly, Woody Head, New South Wales, Australia

A wingspan of up to 3 meters is perfectly matched to glide effortlessly. It looks like an oversized jumbo jet circling along the shoreline.

Streaky Beak, Brooms Head, New South Wales, Australia

Streaky Beak, Brooms Head, New South Wales, Australia

Their beak can reach 50 cm in length, the longest off any bird. Most obvious is the pelicans beak pouch, which can store three times the volume of their stomach. More then a mouthful.

Scooping it up, Brooms Head, New South Wales, Australia

Scooping it up, Brooms Head, New South Wales, Australia

Like a dragnet, the pouch is used to catch or scoop up fish in shallow waters.

Coming through! Brooms Head, New South Wales, Australia

Coming through! Brooms Head, New South Wales, Australia

It can be a clear warning sign and is used for communication within the Pelican community.

Turning the pouch inside out at Brooms Head, New South Wales, Australia

Turning the pouch inside out at Brooms Head, New South Wales, Australia

This pouch can be turned inside out if placed on the bending neck.

Lower mandible clear view, Brooms Head, New South Wales, Australia

Lower mandible clear view, Brooms Head, New South Wales, Australia

The pelicans lower mandible is basically just a frame around the pouch.

Cheeky smile, Woody Head, New South Wales, Australia

Cheeky smile, Woody Head, New South Wales, Australia

Another unique feature is the sharp hook on the upper bill. These are very effective to hold on to larger and slippery fish. This hook is also an important tool for their cleaning procedures.

Combing through feathers, Woody Head, New South Wales, Australia

Combing through feathers, Woody Head, New South Wales, Australia

Cleaning their feathers is very important to keep parasites at bay.

Scratching the long beak, Woody Head, New South Wales, Australia

Scratching the long beak, Woody Head, New South Wales, Australia

Parasites may include feather lice, tapeworms, flies, fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes, which could seriously inflict their health status.

The long beak can reach all body parts, Woody Head, New South Wales, Australia

The long beak can reach all body parts, Woody Head, New South Wales, Australia

This pelican seems to enjoy this with a cheeky smile. After the feathers are parasite free, the next stage of body care starts; to waterproof their feathers.

Activating preen glands, Woody Head, New South Wales, Australia

Activating preen glands, Woody Head, New South Wales, Australia

They rub the backs of their heads on their preen glands to pick up an oily secretion,

Where are those preen glands? Woody Head, New South Wales, Australia

Where are those preen glands? Woody Head, New South Wales, Australiam

which they transfer to their plumage to waterproof it.

Flexibility is the key factor, Woody Head, New South Wales, Australia

Flexibility is the key factor, Woody Head, New South Wales, Australia

This is an ongoing process. I was lucky to watch this pelican doing exactly that right in front of my camera, which is just as amusing to watch.

An important but amusing spectacle, Woody Head, New South Wales, Australia

An important but amusing spectacle, Woody Head, New South Wales, Australia

He really put a show on for me.

Neck acrobatics at Woody Head, New South Wales, Australia

Neck acrobatics at Woody Head, New South Wales, Australia

Their necks are incredibly flexible, quite astounding really. It reminded me of an elephant trunk.

Almost done, Woody Head, New South Wales, Australia

Almost done, Woody Head, New South Wales, Australia

A big yawn signals that all is done,

Resting with caution at Woody Head, New South Wales, Australia

Resting with caution at Woody Head, New South Wales, Australia

it’s time to rest again.

Pelicans at sunset at The Entrance, New South Wales, Australia

Pelicans at sunset at The Entrance, New South Wales, Australia

Pelicans add an elusive spectrum to sunsets too.

Cheeky smile at Woody Head, New South Wales, Australia

Cheeky smile at Woody Head, New South Wales, Australia

Their colorful and cheeky smile is definitely my most favorable feature.

Pelican double vision at Brooms Head, New South Wales, Australia

Pelican double vision at Brooms Head, New South Wales, Australia

Even more in double vision.

 

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