You’ll have many opportunities to marvel at the flying and diving skills of the Brown Pelicans as they hunt and dive along Sandy Beach in front of the Sonoran Sea, Spa, Sky or Sun in Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, Mexico. Hopefully you will know a little more about them as a result of the information in today’s blog.
- There are 8 species of Pelicans, but only the Brown Pelican lives primarily on coastal shores and is one of only two of the species that dramatically dive for their food. Dramatic indeed, as their excellent vision allows them to spot fish often from heights of up to 70 feet and they will sometimes make a dare devil dive from that height as well. Even as skilled as they are at flying and diving, a plunge from such heights can end in disaster from a sudden wind shear near the water surface.
- Extremely gregarious creatures, Brown Pelicans hang together sometimes throughout their lives which last from 10 up to 30 years. They hunt together, feed together, nest together and are quite comfortable among other species as well—even tolerating the pesky kleptomaniacal sea gulls, infamous for stealing fish from the Pelican’s beak as it drains water from its pouch in order to swallow the catch.
- While the Eagle is well known for being the national bird of many countries, the Brown Pelican can hold its own in the area of iconic stature as well. It serves as the national bird of Barbados and the Turks and Caicos Islands, plus it’s the state bird of Louisiana and serves as one of the mascots of Tulane University. You will also find it on the seals of Tulane, LSU and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. It’s also on the Crest of the University of the West Indies.
- Brown Pelicans became an endangered species around the southeast U.S. in the early 70’s because of DDT and similar pesticides. Once those chemicals were banned the population began to increase again and the Brown Pelican was removed from the endangered list in 1988 and now number around 650,000 in the U.S.
- Pelican fossils have been found dating as far back as 40 million years.
- Pelicans don’t store fish in their pouch. They do use it to catch fish but immediately after draining the water from their pouch they swallow their catch. A pelican can eat up to four pounds of fish per day. Their pouch can hold 2-3 times more water than their stomachs can
- Pelicans can easily fly over 100 miles a day for food because of a fibrous layer deep in the breast muscles that holds the wings rigid allowing them to catch thermals and soar up to altitudes of 10,000 ft. or skim along the surface inches above the water.
- Pelicans make their own evaporative cooling system to dissipate heat by rapidly flapping the gular pouch, called a gular flutter, while their bill is open.
- Some nestling habits of the Pelican are still a mystery to the experts. For example, the chicks either before or most often after feeding will engage In a seizure-like fit until they keel over unconscious. Parents will also drag their older young around roughly by their heads before feeding them.
- Pelican chicks, after about 25 days will begin to gather in “pods” of up to a hundred birds—and when their parents come to feed them, they recognize their own and feed only their own chicks.
There’s a saying among feature writers that goes, “Stealing from one author is called plagiarism; stealing from many is called research.”
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This blog is brought to you by the Sonoran Resorts Sales Group, Jim Ringquist, Director of Sales and Marketing.