How Brown Pelicans Feed - Brown Pelican Facts Information


How Brown Pelicans Feed

Brown Pelican Facts & Info
 

 

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Brown pelicans do not recklessly dive for their catch, depending on luck. They rely on larger fish that are feeding deeper, out of sight, to spook small fish to the surface upon which the pelican's prey. A diving pelican plummets like a hard-flung spear. It is a deadly missile that rarely misses.

A bird usually begins its dive from about 20 or 30 feet but it can be as high as 65 feet. It partly closes its wings and curves its neck to draw its head back toward its shoulders. Just prior to hitting the water, the pelican goes through a number of quick contortions that are almost to quick for the eye to catch.

It folds back its wings and turns its body so it is actually upside down and at about a 70-degree angle as it enters the water. A split-second before striking the surface, the bird also extends its neck so the bill and its pouch are also upside down.

Impact
automatically opens the pelican's elastic pouch completely, filling it with water and (hopefully) fish. When a brown pelican pops back to the surface, the first thing it does is sit with its bill lowered so the water can drain out.

The pouch is not normally used for storing food since, once the water is eliminated, the bird raises its bill and gulps down the fish. However, the pouch is an excellent scoop when schools of baitfish are plentiful and the pelican can skim them off the surface.

Years of hurling themselves into the water does not normally cause a pelican to lose its sight. That is only a myth. Blindess is usually caused by infection or injury from a fishing.

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