I enjoy watching all the birds, but there’s just something about pelicans.
Admittedly, I have always been fascinated by pelicans.
These oversized waterbirds, elegant on water and in the air,
yet goofy looking on dry land.
Hopping around with their wings wide open to keep their balance whilst rushing to a potential food source.
This is most obvious when pelicans gather around fish cleaning areas. These are set up all across Australia at popular fishing spots.
There seems to be a strict pecking order in place. Hopeful to snatch a bit of fish thrown out by the fish filleting fisherman.
Once a piece of fish has been caught in their beak pouch,
it’s best to run off before another pelican can be challenging.
However, there won’t be much coming out of this sack.
Yummy. Back in line.
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.
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.
A wingspan of up to 3 meters is perfectly matched to glide effortlessly. It looks like an oversized jumbo jet circling along the shoreline.
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.
Like a dragnet, the pouch is used to catch or scoop up fish in shallow waters.
It can be a clear warning sign and is used for communication within the Pelican community.
This pouch can be turned inside out if placed on the bending neck.
The pelicans lower mandible is basically just a frame around the pouch.
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.
Cleaning their feathers is very important to keep parasites at bay.
Parasites may include feather lice, tapeworms, flies, fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes, which could seriously inflict their health status.
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.
They rub the backs of their heads on their preen glands to pick up an oily secretion,
which they transfer to their plumage to waterproof it.
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.
He really put a show on for me.
Their necks are incredibly flexible, quite astounding really. It reminded me of an elephant trunk.
A big yawn signals that all is done,
it’s time to rest again.
Pelicans add an elusive spectrum to sunsets too.
Their colorful and cheeky smile is definitely my most favorable feature.
Even more in double vision.
3 thoughts on “Pelicans of Australia”
Awwwww Mr Pelicancan
A very underrated bird by most people…
Great photos Ben. Love these majestically awkward creatures.