Australian Pelican

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Common Name: Australian Pelican
Scientific Name: Pelecanus conspicillatus

Size: 60-70 inches (160-180 cm)

Habitat: Australia, Papua New Guinea and western Indonesia, with occasional reports in New Zealand and Sulawesi. Any area with a large body of standing water is a potential pelican habitat. Though normally associated with the coast, the Australian pelican can also be seen inland at times of high rainfall, particularly near freshwater, estuarine and marine wetlands and waterways including lakes, swamps, rivers, coastal islands and shores.

Status: Least Concern. Global Population: 100,000 - 1,000,000 mature individuals. This species has a large range and is widespread however there have been significant population declines; habitat destruction, introduced predators, oil spills, and pesticide poisonings (dieldrin in particular) have killed many birds.

Diet: Fish and some marine invertebrates. In addition to small fish, they will eat crustaceans, tadpoles, turtles, ducklings and sea gulls. Prey is caught by fishing from the water surface.

Nesting: The Australian Pelican begins breeding at two or three years of age. Breeding season varies, occurring in winter in tropical areas and late spring in parts of southern Australia. Any time after rainfall is usual in inland areas. The nest is a shallow depression in earth or sand, sometimes with some grass lining. Grassy platforms are constructed at Lake Alexandrina in South Australia. Nesting is communal, with colonies located on islands or sheltered areas in the vicinity of lakes or the sea.

Breeding Australian pelicans will lay one or three chalky-white eggs. After they hatch, the larger one will be fed more, and the smaller one will eventually die of starvation. For the first two weeks the chicks will be fed regurgitated liquid, but for the remaining two months they will be fed fish such as goldfish or the introduced European carp, and some invertebrates.

Cool Facts: Australian pelicans may live 25 years or longer. They mostly feed in groups, cooperating to herd and enclose schools of fish, then swoop down on their trapped prey. They can eat up to 9 kilograms of food per day. They have been known to follow humans homes, hoping to be feed.

Found in Songbird Remix Pelicans and Songbird ReMix Australia Volume III

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