Pelicans on Topsail Island

Pelicans look a bit like the were built with some optional parts, like a Mr. Potato Head kit.  That bill, for instance, can hold three gallons of water. . . but they have to spit it out before they can swallow that fish they’ve caught.

There are seven species of pelicans in the world and all of them are white except for one–the brown pelican.   It is the only species that dives from the air into the water to catch its fish.

It takes an impressive wing span to keep that body aloft.  They weigh about 30 pounds.

Does this look like something prehistoric?  Since they’ve been around about 40,000,000 years, they qualify!  Their numbers have varied greatly through the years.  DDT imperiled them, as did the popularity of their feathers for women’s hats.

Brown pelicans became the poster child of the BP oil spill in the Gulf.  They had just been taken off the endangered species list the year before.  They still face many perils–loss of habitat and danger from sports equipment like hooks and filament lines.    Estimates are that as many as 80% of brown pelicans have been injured from fishing equipment and some 500 birds a year die from these injuries.

A wonderful bird is the pelican,
His bill will hold more than his belican. (or belly can)
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week,
But I’m damned if I see how the helican. (or hell he can)

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