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Three Star Grading

Tourism Grading Council
South Africa





 

 

 

 

 

 



Birds of South Africa

Click on Links below to see info of South African and St. Lucia Bird Species
African Crowned Eagle| African Fish Eagle| Black Shouldered Kite| Blue Crane| Great White Pelican| Malachite Kingfisher| Purple Crested Lourie| Secretary Bird| Spotted Eagle Owl| Verreaux's (Black) Eagle|

Common Name: Great White Pelican

Scientific Name: Pelecanus onocrotalus

Description:

A very large white bird with a long bill and yellow pouch attached to the lower mandible. Flight feathers are black. The bill is yellowish grey. The eyes are red to red brown. It is awkward on the ground but an effortless flyer. It is usually seen in large flocks flying from one location to another in extended V formations or feeding in unison in groups or rafts that seek to encircle schools of fish. Males are larger than females, and have a long beak that grows in a downwards arc, as opposed to the shorter, straighter beak of the female. Immature birds are grey and have dark flight feathers. Once aloft, the long-winged pelicans are powerful fliers, however, and often travel in spectacular V-formation groups. The pelican's pouch is simply a scoop. As the pelican pushes its bill underwater, the lower bill bows out, creating a large pouch which fills with water and fish. As the bird lifts its head, the pouch contracts, forcing out the water but retaining the fish. A group of 6 to 8 great white pelicans will gather in a horseshoe formation in the water to feed together. They dip their bills in unison, creating a circle of open pouches, ready to trap every fish in the area

Bird

Pictures: Courtesy of South African Tourism!

Size:

Great White Pelicans are large birds with mass of 10 kg (22 lbs), 160 cm (63 in) long and with a 280 cm (110 inch) wingspan

Area:

On Tanzania’s Lake Rukwa you will find the largest colony of White pelicans (almost 75000 birds) exist, consuming 28 million kilograms of fish every year. In South Africa you will find them at the estuaries and lakes of the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park and the pans on the floodplains of the Pongola and Usutu rivers.

Habits:

In flight, it is an elegant soaring bird, with the head held close to and aligned with the body by a downward bend in the neck.The short strong legs and webbed feet propel it in water and aid the rather awkward takeoff from the water surface.

Nesting:

During the breeding season, the great white pelican male behaves territorially; gaping, clapping its bill and bowing. It may even attack other males using the bill, should they come too close. Breeding takes place in spring in Europe, but is year-round in Africa, and despite the male’s defensive behaviour, the birds nest colonially near water. Males display using the head crest and the bright colours of the pouch. Once pairs have formed, a rudimentary nest is built on the ground from sticks. The female lays an average of two eggs and incubates them for 31 days. The chicks fledge after 75 to 85 days, reaching sexual maturity at three to four years . Great white pelicans can live for up to 30 years.

Food:

Sometimes they also eat chicks of another birds. They also eat crustaceans, tadpoles and even turtles. They readily accept handouts from humans, and a number of unusual items have been recorded in their diet. During periods of starvation, pelicans also eat seagulls and ducklings. The gulls are held under water and drowned before being eaten headfirst. Pelicans will also rob other birds of their prey. They can swallow fish as large 3kgs.