Brown Pelican - (Bird) Glossary of Antique Terms B

Brown Pelican - (Bird) (Pelecanus occidentalis occidentalis) The "Eastern" Brown Pelican nest on small, isolated coastal islands where they are safe from predators such as raccoons and coyotes. When feeding, Pelicans soar in the air looking for fish near the surface of the water. When a fish is spotted, the Pelican goes into a dive, plunging 30 to 60 feet bill-first into the water. The impact of hitting the water would kill an ordinary bird, but the Pelican is equipped with air sacs just beneath the skin to cushion the blow. The loose skin on the underside of the bill extends to form a scoop net and has a capacity of 2.5 gallons. The Pelican drains the water from its pouch and tosses its head back to swallow the fish.

Pelican's Catch (Smithsonian Oceanic Collection)Pelican's Catch (Smithsonian Oceanic Collection)


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