Day 67 Saturday 04th June 2011
Today, there was no wind, it was so calm and still. It was actually nice to go outside and to be able to hear your thoughts.
Although it was sunny first thing, by mid morning the clouds came in and decided to stay for the remainder of the day, but the cloudy sky somehow created beautiful lighting and as there was no wind – today felt very calming, peaceful and tranquil.
As this is the 4th photograph that I have taken of a pelican in this project – The other photographs were on Day 11, Day 22 and Day 27 (just click on the links to view) I thought that I would share some interesting facts about these beautiful birds…
This is a photo of an Australian Pelican. I have to say, I think they are one of my favourite birds. They are very special. There are 7 types of pelican around the world and the Australian one is the largest, with a wing span of up to 3.4 metres, they can weigh several kilos. They can live up to the age of 25 and it’s been recorded in the Guinness Book of Records that they have the largest bills in the bird kingdom. But there’s so much more to them…
During the courtship period they beautify themselves! – honestly! the bill and pouch of the birds change colour dramatically. The forward half of the pouch becomes bright salmon pink, while the skin of the pouch in the throat region turns chrome yellow. Parts of the top and base of the bill change to a deep blue – almost purple in colour, and a black diagonal strip appears from the base to the tip. This colour change is of short duration, the intensity usually subsiding by the time incubation starts. Why wouldn’t I love a bird that makes this much effort to attract a partner?! 😉
They also do a lot of other things to attract a partner – like the males pick up small objects, like sticks or bits of old, dry fish, then they toss them in the air and catch again, repeating the sequence several times, trying to impress the female. They also do this thing called pouch rippling – where they clap their bills shut several times a second so that the pouch ripples like a flag in the wind.
Eventually the males drop out one by one, after trying very hard, with pursuits on land, water or in the air, until only a single male is left. The female leads him to a potential nest site. They work hard!
I also love that Pelican chicks actually communicate with their mothers whilst still in the egg, how amazing is that?! They can communicate whether they are too hot or cold. When they eventually hatch (between 30 – 35 days) they have no problem identifying who their parents are.
They glide so close to the water, you think they are going to crash – yet they never do. I always think they look far too heavy to fly.
Most large water birds such as herons, storks, cranes and cormorants fly with their necks stretched out in front of them. Pelicans are different – they actually fly with their heads curved back against their bodies.
I hope I haven’t bored you, I just thought you may be interested 🙂 especially, as like I said, these birds are one of my favourites and I wanted to tell you why. It’s also to do with the fact, that when I moved to Australia, from the first moment I saw one, I fell in love with them.
This was taken at Manly Wharf, Sydney, NSW, Australia