Friday, July 13, 2018

Brown Pelican

During our Sanibel Island sojourn, I made half-hearted attempts to photograph diving Brown Pelicans. I think the key to absolute success is to concentrate on a single species on any given day. In any case, here are my best results from 7 February 2018. Brown Pelican dive from heights of up to 20 meters. At the last second, the bird turns slightly to the left to avoid injuring its trachea and esophagus, which are located n the right side of the neck. The gular pouch fills with up to 10 liters of water. Air sacs keep the pelican from going under water, so prey is only taken near the surface. About 80% of the time the pelican’s dive is successful. Curiously few, if any, studies exist at total food intake. Captive birds require around half a kilo of fish per day (Shields 2014). 
The Laughing Gull in the final photo is kleptoparasite on the pelican. The gull is hoping for scraps from the pelican’s catch. In some studies, gulls were successful in their robbery about 15% of the time. Too bad I was slow about getting my camera in focus. A few seconds previously the gull perched on the pelican’s head.

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