Here we have another pelican, this time the Pink-Backed Pelican, Pelecanus rufescens.
The Pink-Backed Pelican is a small pelican, but by no means a small bird with a length of up to 155 cm (61 inches) and a wingspan up to 2.9 metres (9.5 feet). The plumage is grey and white, with a pinkish hue on the back occasionally apparent, particularly during the breeding season. Breeding adults have long feather plumes on the head.
Distribution and Habitat
Native to parts of Africa, the Pink-Backed Pelican can be found in a variety of habitats, including shallow lakes, coastal lagoons, and river deltas. They are known to be highly adaptable, making use of both freshwater and saltwater environments. These pelicans often form colonies on small islands or secluded areas, where they build nests on the ground.
Behaviour and Feeding Habits
Pink-Backed Pelicans are social birds, often seen in large groups, either in flight or on the water. Their feeding behavior is a sight to behold, as they employ a cooperative strategy to catch fish. Working together, they corral fish into shallow waters before dipping their heads simultaneously to scoop up their prey. With their large, pouched bills, they can hold a considerable amount of water and fish.
Its nest is a large heap of sticks and may be 10–50 m above the ground on occasion, although they often nest in the mangrove swamps or even on sandy dunes. The nests are generally reused each year until the nest itself, or the tree, collapses. The female lays two to three large white eggs and the chicks will then feed by plunging their heads deep into the adult’s pouch and taking the partially digested regurgitated fish.
While the Pink-Backed Pelican is not currently classified as endangered, like many other bird species, it faces threats from habitat loss, pollution, and human disturbance. Conservation efforts are crucial to ensure the continued survival of these beautiful birds. Their presence in the ecosystem is vital, contributing to the balance of aquatic environments.
Significance in Culture
Throughout history, pelicans have held symbolic significance in various cultures. In ancient mythology, they were associated with motherhood and sacrifice, as they were believed to feed their young with their own blood.