Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Pelican Power

 As promised, today we have come to Australia and are looking at the Pelican.  Throughout the photographs I will give you interesting information about these beautiful birds.  (I hope the Australian bloggers will find something they may not have known)

The Australian Pelican is a predominantly white bird with black wings and a pink bill.  It has been recorded as having the longest bill of any living bird.  It mainly eats fish, but will also consume birds and scavenges for scraps.

It is medium-sized by pelican standards, with a wingspan of 7.5 to 8.5 ft.  Weight can range from 8.8 to 29 lbs although most of these pelicans weigh between 10.0 and 17 lbs.  The pale pinkish bill is enormous, even by pelican standards, and is the largest bill in the avian world. The record-sized bill was 20 in long.   Females are slightly smaller with a notably smaller bill, which can measure as small as 13.6 in at maturity.  The total length is boasted by the bill 60–74 in, which makes it rank alongside Dalmatian Pelican as the longest of pelicans.

There is a white panel on upper-wing and white-V on rump set against black along the primaries. During courtship, the orbital skin and distal quarter of bill are orange-coloured with the pouch variously turning dark blue, pink and scarlet. The non-breeding adult has bill and eye-ring pale yellow, pouch pale pinkish. Juvenile similar to adult, but black replaced with brown and white patch on upper wing reduced.


The Australian Pelican begins breeding at two or three years of age.  Breeding season varies, occurring in winter in tropical areas (north of 26oS) and late spring in parts of southern Australia. Breeding may occur any time after rainfall in inland areas. The nest is a shallow depression in earth or sand, sometimes with some grass lining.  Nesting is communal, with colonies located on islands or sheltered areas in the vicinity of lakes or the sea.  

Breeding Australian pelicans will lay one to four (typically two) chalky-white eggs measuring 3.7 in × 2.2 in, which often appear scratched and dirty.  The eggs are incubated for 32 to 35 days. The chicks are naked when they hatch, though quickly grow grey down feathers.  After they hatch, the larger one will be fed more, and the smaller one will eventually die of starvation or siblicide.
For the first two weeks the chicks will be fed regurgitated liquid, but for the remaining two months they will be fed fish and some invertebrates.  Feeding pods are formed within colonies when the chicks are around 25 days. The young pelicans fledge at around three months of age.

The following are more fun and interesting facts about pelicans:
  • There are eight species of pelicans and the Dalmatian pelican, is the largest species, with a wingspan that can reach the length of 11 1/2 feet!
  • Pouches can hold up to three gallons of water (2 - 3 times the amount their stomachs can hold).
  • Pelicans will flap their pouches to cool off on hot days.  
  • Did you know that Pelicans have been around for over 40 million years?  Yes, the earliest Pelican fossils were discovered in an undisclosed location in France.
  • Pelicans and their relatives are the only group of birds to have webbing between all four toes.
  • The male of the pelican species pitches in to help incubate the eggs, much like a penguin does. 
  • There are various legends in various cultures that would have the pelican either nourishing or resurrecting her young with her own blood
  • The pelican is the state bird of Louisianna  
  • Pelicans may have been worshipped in ancient Peru; they are depicted in a lot of Peruvian
  • Gulls will often sit on a pelican's head to steal its fish when it opens its bill to pour out the water.
  • In the wild, the average lifespan is 10 to 30 years.

Now the photo below is (especially for the Australians). 
How many different birds can you ID?

There are Austrailan Pelican, Spoonbill, Silver Gull, Caspian and Gull-billed Tern, Curlew and  Bar tailed Godwit. 

Did you ID them all?

 This is a close up of the Pelicans and Spoonbill above.

I have a short video to show you and it can be accessed at

If there is a black space below, click it and the video will appear. 

I hoped you enjoyed coming with me to Australia today.   Thank you for visiting.
MANY THANKS TO ALL who left comments on any of my posts yesterday
I am linking to Wild Bird Wednesday today


  1. Amazing shots!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

  2. These are stunning shots of a very impressive bird.
    They do look a little Jurassic in flight.

  3. Great shots you took on those remarkable birds!
    We don't have them here in Sweden.
    Greetings Pia

  4. Hello Margaret.
    Beautiful photos of the pelicans.
    What a great impressive beak they have.

    Greetings Irma

  5. I do love our pelicans. There are some coastal towns in NSW which go to quite some lengths to discourage them from roosting on the street lights because their weight has caused damage...

  6. Wonderful photos and a lovely video. Enjoy your day!

  7. Margaret wonderful photos of the Pelicans. Great closeups! And I enjoyed your video! Have a happy day!

  8. lovely photos of the pelicans Margaret; they're always up to having their photo taken

  9. Great post Margaret! I didn't know my local Pelican has the longest bill in the world... but I can certainly believe it! An interesting fact from a local perspective is that the numbers of these birds on the coast depend on the weather conditions inland. If we are in drought, there's plenty by the sea, but somehow they can tell when the inland fills up after rain and they all disappear from the coastline then. I particularly liked the photo of one sailing by the mangrove with the Tern flying overhead. Speaking of terns, I am proud to say I identified all the birds in your photo - no cheating! :)

  10. interesting post, I did know the fossils of a Pelican were discovered some place close to us in the Luberon, but never has one documentary on the find ever disclosed the location, curious! You've taken fantastic shots (as usual)..enjoyed the video as well..:-)

  11. Great photos Margaret and a very informative post. So enjoyed the horse post yesterday and the video :)

  12. Greats shots - I managed to find all the birds in the "ID quest" image - and tried to turn the tern by the curlew into something else - but I failed!

    Cheers and thanks for linking to the B and W version of WBW!

    Stewart M - Melbourne

  13. How neat to see the birds, most of which seem "exotic" to me.

  14. If I didn't know that God never makes mistakes, I'd think this bird might be one. That bill looks so cumbersome. The bird is beautiful, though; and I could see in the video that the bill works as it was intended. It was fun to see the graceful gliding over the water, too. Great post.

  15. they are amazing creatures. i do love that bill! :)

  16. Since I am a birdwatcher, this is so interesting to me! First, I did not know there even was an Australian Pelican. And he is so beautiful! The ones we have here are not so pretty, but this black and white bird with the beautiful pink beak is just fabulous!!! I also did not know how old they are, they might have been around with the dinosaurs? And they do make me think a bit of the Pterodactyls! I wish I could see a real live one! But I doubt that our zoos even have any.

  17. Super shots and lots of information there Margaret. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Fabulous. What amazing birds they are. I loved the fact about the seagulls.

  19. Great photos.Pelicans are always fun to photograph and right now there are so many around on the bay in my area.

  20. Brilliant shots of the Pelicans, but my fave is number 9, superb.

  21. Great serie! Well done!
    I took a lot of photos of the Australian Pelican when I visited Australia back in 2008!
    I posted some shots some weeks ago...

  22. Beautiful shots of the Pelican. They are so cool.

  23. I just today realized how different the Australian pelican is from our brown one (that we see when we're in Florida)....I read Stewart's black and white post and now I've seen pictures of "yours" before but didn't realize until now how black those feathers are...otherwise, it does look like 'ours'. Beautiful pictures and I did learn a lot from your post.

  24. Margaret these pelicans are really TOTALLY AMAZING and your shots are wonderful! These first two shots especially have just blown me away! also love the interesting facts about these incredible birds

  25. Thank you for the interesting information about pelicans. You photos are simply magnificent. Very well done.

  26. Hi Margaret, The Australian Pelican is a beautiful bird... We have pelicans in our country (near the seashore) --but they are not pretty like the ones in Australia. Thanks for sharing this with us.


  27. Hello!!! Thanks for following! I've been reading your work now for several weeks and I LOVE that you post lots of your birds! These are exceptional shots and it's on a bird on my list of MUST SEES:) Thank you for all the info on these incredible birds. Chris

  28. I love the bill colour on this Pelican as well as the elegant wing patterns .

  29. I'm not sure if this went through, but I have been enjoying your posts. Thanks for joining and following. I have been really enjoying all your posts on birds found around your area. It's one of the birds on my MUST SEE list:)

  30. Excellent close ups! Love the detail!

    Thanks for coming by and following. :)

  31. Thanks Margaret for the lesson on the pelican - fascinating. I didn't know about the pouch changing colour - must look more carefully next time - or about the foot webbing. I found 7 different bird species, but could not identify them all.

  32. What an unusual pelican. It's eye detail is amazing. I also liked all your colorful butterflies, dragonflies, etc. in the later post.

  33. I love pelicans! They are one of my favorites. They seem to have so much personality. Great photos also...