pelicans seen on our eco tours in cape coral

It is so much fun to watch the pelicans moving about in the water.  These adorable birds can be found in every continent except Antarctica.  Fossil evidence has them dating back up 30 million years to the remains of a beak very similar to our modern species which were discovered in France.

There are approximately 8 different species of Pelicans.  Here in Southwest Florida we are pleased to have a large amount of Brown Pelicans.  Other species include the Peruvian Pelican, the Spot-Billed Pelican, the Pink Backed Pelican, the American White Pelican, the Dalmatian Pelican, the Australian Pelican and the Great White Pelican.

The Pelicans are characterized by their long beaks and large throat pouch.  The throat pouch is used to catch prey and then draining the water from the scooped up contents prior to swallowing.  The American Pelican is able hold up to 3 gallons (11.36 liters) of water in their pouch.

Some Pelicans will fish by diving directly into the water for their prey.  Others will fish by swimming in a group.  They will form a line or a “U” shape and then drive the fish into shallow water by beating their wings on the surface of the water.  An adult Pelican will eat up to 4 pounds of food per day.

When a Pelican is ready to fly they must have wind for their take-off.  They will run over water, flap their wings and pound their feet over the surface of the water in unison to develop enough speed to take off.

Since Pelicans feed primarily on fish and you will find them nesting mostly in coastal waters.  The Pelicans will nest in colonies whether it’s in trees, bushes or on the ground. 

Pelicans mate any time during the year.  When they lay their eggs they will lay between 1 and 3 eggs.  Each egg is laid 2 to 3 days apart and the first chick born is always larger than its siblings.  Eggs are incubated by both parents for 32 to 35 days.  Unlike other birds which incubate their eggs under their breast, the Pelican incubate their egg under their webbed feet.

These birds are quite fascinating and if you would like to continue reading about the various breeds of Pelicans please follow the links listed below.

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