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  • Writer's pictureS Santosh Kumar (sukubirder)

Braggart of Bharatpur: Dalmatian Pelican


(Nikon D500, 200-500mm lens; 1/640, f/6.3, ISO100; hand-held; @Keoladeo Ghana NP, Bharatpur, 20/02/23)

(Nikon D500, 200-500mm lens; 1/640, f/6.3, ISO125; hand-held; @Keoladeo Ghana NP, Bharatpur, 20/02/23)

(Nikon D500, 200-500mm lens; 1/640, f/6.3, ISO100; hand-held; @Keoladeo Ghana NP, Bharatpur, 20/02/23)


Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus): This huge winter visitor from Central Asia and Russia ticks quite a few boxes in the enormity category. It is the largest known pelican and is one of the largest living flying birds (160-183cm in length). Though an elegant flier, it is observed as one of the heaviest flying birds, 7.25-15kg (median: 11.5kg) and has one of the largest wingspans (245-351cm), comparable with those of the great albatrosses. Breeding adult has a stunning silvery-white plumage contrasting with the orange-red rubbery pouch beneath its bill and the purple to yellow bare skin around its eyes. It has a thick, curly, silver crest of feathers on the nape. Its favourite food is fish and as it feeds by quickly dunking its head underwater to scoop the fish out, its characteristic extendable sac of skin at the base of its throat expands to hold the water along with the fish. Reports suggest that the pouch can hold as much as 3 gallons of water which is several times more than what its belly can hold, so all the excess water is then dumped out of the sides of the pouch and the fish is swallowed. It uses its throat pouch also as a cooling mechanism by opening its beak during hot weather and pulsating its pouch in order to speed up the rate of cooling by evaporation. The population of this big bird is dwindling and it is placed in the near-threatened category of IUCN Red list. Its survival is threatened by habitat degradation due to wetland drainage/alteration, water pollution, as well as being shot and persecuted by fishermen who regard this bird as competing with them for food, which is further compounded by the fishing industry’s over-exploitation of fish stocks. It is also hunted by livestock herders in Mongolia and the bill of this species has traditionally been used by Mongolian nomads for a pouch.

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27 mar 2023
Valutazione 5 stelle su 5.

Beautiful pictures with interesting, well researched information

Mi piace
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