Thursday, December 10, 2015

Bird of the Week

Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentals )

I recently went to the Tampa/St Pete area with my family for some sun and sand.  While there, we visited the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary in Indian Shores, FL.  This friendly guy was there to welcome us and pose for some pictures.

The Brown Pelican is a success story of wildlife conservation.  They were on the brink of extinction in until the ban of the pesticide DDT.  The pesticide caused their egg shells to be thin and brittle.  They have rebounded well and are now fairly common in the Southeastern United States and on the coast in Southern California.  

The Brown Pelican uses it's large beak and deep pouch to catch fish on the surface of the water.  They are seen flying low over the water and then scooping up fish.  They will at times scavenge and steal from other seabirds.  

The Brown Pelican will nest on the ground, or on platforms, or in trees.  The reason DDT was so harmful to Brown Pelican is because they incubate their eggs with their feet. The pressure would just break the thin and brittle eggs.  

Fun Facts about The Brown Pelican

-Gulls and other seabirds sometime steal fish right out of Pelican's pouch.

-Male Brown Pelican select a nest site and then try to attract a mate with head swaying.  They will defend their area aggressively from other males.

-The oldest known Brown Pelican was amazing 43 years old.  

For more information on the Seacoast Seabird Sanctuary Click here.   Share your experiences with Brown Pelicans in the comments or on the Facebook page