It takes a plethora of adjectives to accurately describe the Australian Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus), for it’s a friendly, inquisitive, beautiful and elegant bird.
Pelicans have been part of Australia’s wildlife community for millions of years, and today, with a population of 300,000-500,000, they’re found wherever there’s water, from the coast to the most remote corners of the outback.
They inhabit beaches and estuaries and are regular visitors to harbours and wharfs where they plead for fishermen’s scraps and fight among themselves to snatch whatever treats are tossed their way. They drift on the calm waters of lakes, wade in the shallows of saline and freshwater wetlands, and stroll across the lawns of urban parklands that border meandering rivers.
Although pelicans often feed alone, their great success as predators comes when they work together as a group, known as a pod or a squadron, and either swim in formation to surround their prey or herd fish or crustaceans into shallow water. Then, with a meal within their reach, the birds plunge their bills into the water and use their huge expanding pouches as nets to scoop up their catch.
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