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Australian Pelican

Life in the air

"We could sit for hours with our Pelican friends as they stand on the sandy shore."

Peter Hylands, Andrea Hylands

September 11, 2022

The Australian Pelican Pelicanus conspicillatus is large, males with a wingspan of around 2.5 metres. The bill is big too, and bigger again when its pouch is full.

The wisdom of Presidents

“And to lose the chance to see Frigate Birds soaring in circles above the storm, or a file of Pelicans winging their way homeward across the crimson afterglow of the sunset, or a myriad terns flashing in the bright light of midday as they hover in a shifting maze above the beach - why, the loss is like the loss of a gallery of the masterpieces of the artists of old time.” Theodore Roosevelt

The Pelican species

There are eight species of Pelican in the world, the largest species is the Dalmatian Pelican Pelicanus crispus with a maximum wing span of over 3 metres. The species largest colony lives at Lake Mikri Prespa in Greece (numbers have fallen very significantly over the last 100 years or so but because of improved conservation efforts some colonies are at least holding their own).

Distribution of the Australian Pelican

The distribution of the Australian Pelican, and we see these birds in many different environments in Australia, ranges from estuaries, where we are today, to the inland desert country of this immense continent. Pelicans travel inland when the floods come to bring an explosion of life to the short lived lakes of the desert country, in what are among the driest places of all. 

We could sit for hours with our Pelican friends as they stand on the sandy shore and occasionally enter the water together to float out into the estuarine waters where the fish are plentiful.

There are also Pelicans above us drifting on the wind in an effortless and a somehow comforting display. We decide that an afternoon spent with Pelicans is a joy. We should all do more of it.