|Thursday, 04 February 2010 18:43|
Florida 2010 – II – Pelican the bomber
In the older article I said the abundance of Anhinga in Florida can be compared to Mallard in Europe but what can I say about Pelican that you will almost certainly see on every beach of Florida? It will do to stick to the fact that Pelican is very common and abundant species in Florida and my comparison to a bomber is quite clear when you realize that most often you will see single birds as well as flocks of Pelicans numbering tens of individuals hovering low above the beach and this all – the large body with wide-spread wings cutting smoothly through the wind gusts - make you feel like a fleet of enemy bombers will attack you in a moment! But Pelicans are very calm birds – when they sit on a perch or on beach and watch you with their long bill lovely hanging down along their long neck, you feel like this bird would deserve some small present … some tasty fish at best!
Fishes are the most favourite food for Pelicans so the best chance to see these birds is close to the fishermen or fishing piers (both are abundant in Florida!). In such places Pelicans are very tame and let you approach very close so you can almost touch them. They often rest close to the places where the fishermen gut and clean their catch and where there is always a pretty good chance for some “snack”. I recall such a place in Sebastian Inlet State Park where about 50 young and adult Brown Pelicans perched and waited for fishermen to come.
Many of you must remember Pelicans from the animated cartoons as the birds with large wattle full of fishes – this wattle is actually not well seen under usual circumstances but it gets its use when Pelican swallows some larger fish and also during Pelicans` fishing dives. The Pelican fishing is quite a spectacle – the bird flies low above the water and watches carefully the movement under the water; when it sees the fish it slows down, draw the wings close to the body and as an arrow plunges swiftly into the water in a very the same way as Gannets or Terns do. The Pelican`s wattle spreads under the water and serves as a fish net making the hunt much more successful.
The Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) is very common in Florida but if you are lucky, you can see American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) too – it is one of the largest birds of North America – it is 1.6 m long (bill to tail) and has unbelievable wings-span of 2.7 m! I was always happy to see these great birds but the local fishermen treat Pelicans more like a pest as they often have to share their fish catch with them.
There is a lot of birds suffering from human greed – we have seen quite a number of dead birds in Florida, many of them tangled up into fishing lines and baits. We were surprise to see that fishing is even allowed in such famous places as is the J.N. Ding Darling national Wildlife Refuge at Sanibel Island and do you think that fishermen untangle their dangerous bites stuck in roots or bushes? No way! This will also be topic of one of the articles that will come soon …
List of relevant articles about Florida
|Last Updated on Thursday, 27 January 2011 18:00|