Pelican’s 24th October 2011
Good Morning All
I do hope those of you who have been ill are now starting to recover.
Before I start todays post I would just like to add my personal thanks to Shirley Anne for the beautiful prayer that she wrote for Hope, truly beautiful words, so thank you for that Shirley, it meant a lot to us.
Pelicans are large birds with large pouched bills. The smallest is the Brown Pelican (P. occidentalis), small individuals of which can be as little as 2.75 kg (6 lb), 106 cm (42 in) long and can have a wingspan of as little as 1.83 m (6 ft). The largest is believed to be the Dalmatian Pelican (P. crispus), at up to 15 kg (33 lb), 183 cm (72 in) long, with a maximum wingspan of 3 meters (nearly 10 foot). The Australian Pelican has the longest bill of any bird
Pelicans swim well with their short, strong legs and their feet with all four toes webbed (as in all birds placed in the order Pelecaniformes). The tail is short and square, with 20 to 24 feathers. The wings are long and have the unusually large number of 30 to 35 secondary flight feathers. A layer of special fibers deep in the breast muscles can hold the wings rigidly horizontal for gliding and soaring. Thus they can exploit thermals to commute over 150 km (93 mi) to feeding areas
Pelicans rub the backs of their heads on their preen glands to pick up their oily secretion, which they transfer to their plumage to waterproof it.
Sub-groups. The pelicans can be divided into two groups: those with mostly white adult plumage, which nest on the ground (Australian, Dalmatian, Great White, and American White Pelicans), and those with gray or brown plumage, which nest in trees (Pink-backed, Spot-billed, and Brown, plus the Peruvian Pelican, which nests on sea rocks). The Peruvian Pelican is sometimes considered conspecific with the Brown Pelican
Feeding. The diet of a Pelican usually consists of fish, but they also eat amphibians, crustaceans and on some occasions, smaller birds. They often catch fish by expanding the throat pouch. Then they must drain the pouch above the surface before they can swallow. This operation takes up to a minute, during which time other seabirds are particularly likely to steal the fish. Pelicans in their turn sometimes pirate prey from other seabirds.
The white pelicans often fish alone. They will form a line to chase schools of small fish into shallow water, and then scoop them up. Large fish are caught with the bill-tip, then tossed up in the air to be caught and slid into the gullet head first.
The Brown Pelican of North America usually plunge-dives for its prey. Rarely, other species such as the Peruvian Pelican and the Australian Pelican practice this method.
Consumption of other birds is rare. In 2006, footage of a pelican swallowing a living pigeon in St. James Park, London was captured, although such incidents had long claimed to happen there. According to tourists watching it, the pelican walked to the pigeon and grabbed it in its beak, hence starting the 20 minute struggle which ended when the victim was swallowed “head first down while flapping all the way down”. A pelican in Zoo Basel has been known to eat ducks It has been suggested this feeding behaviour is more likely with captive birds that live in a semi-urban environment and are in constant close contact with humans, although it has been observed in the wild
Reproduction. Pelicans are gregarious and nest colonially. The ground-nesting (white) species have a complex communal courtship involving a group of males chasing a single female in the air, on land, or in the water while pointing, gaping, and thrusting their bills at each other. They can finish the process in a day. The tree-nesting species have a simpler process in which perched males advertise for females.
In all species copulation begins shortly after pairing and continues for 3 to 10 days before egg-laying. The male brings the nesting material, ground-nesters (which may not build a nest) sometimes in the pouch and tree-nesters crosswise in the bill. The female then heaps the material up to form a simple structure.
Both sexes incubate with the eggs on top of or below the feet. They may display when changing shifts. All species lay at least two eggs, and hatching success for undisturbed pairs can be as high as 95 percent, but because of competition between siblings or outright siblicide, usually all but one nestling dies within the first few weeks (or later in the Pink-backed and Spot-billed species). The young are fed copiously. Before or especially after being fed, they may seem to have a seizure that ends in falling unconscious; the reason is not clearly known.
Parents of ground-nesting species have another strange behavior: they sometimes drag older young around roughly by the head before feeding them. The young of these species gather in “pods” or “crèches” of up to 100 birds in which parents recognize and feed only their own offspring. By 6 to 8 weeks they wander around, occasionally swimming, and may practice communal feeding.
Young of all species fledge 10 to 12 weeks after hatching. They may remain with their parents afterwards, but are now seldom or never fed. Overall breeding success is highly inconsistent.
getting fed http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t20Q7MXO48A
heading for a days fishing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGBdEpS0904&feature=related
fishing near the shore http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVz6Jh_O38w&feature=related
The Dyfi Osprey Project and the Scottish wildlife Trust have kindly given their permission for us to post still and video images from their webcams. To visit their sites please click on the relevant link. Loch of the Lowes. Dyfi Osprey Project.