Some Fascinating Facts About Pelicans

February 18, 2014 by  
Filed under Features

Based on the oldest recorded pelican fossil found at Luberon in southeastern France belonging to the Early Oligocene era, it has been deduced that pelicans have existed virtually unchanged for at least thirty million years. Fossils of several birds from the Pelecanus species have been identified elsewhere in the world – South Australia; Siwalik Hills, India; Bavaria, Germany; Idaho, United States; Odessa, Ukraine; and North Carolina, United States – backing up this claim. Today there are eight living pelican species distributed around the world and some of which are considered ‘vulnerable’ or ‘threatened’ by the IUCN, and all of which use their amazingly elastic pouches to catch fish.

With the exception of the brown pelican, which dives for fish and snatches it up in its bill, pelicans usually form cooperative groups for their fishing expeditions. They either swim along in a line or U-shape formation, beating their wings on the surface of the water to drive the fish into a group in the shallows where the pelicans scoop them up in their pouches. Contrary to popular belief, pelicans do not store fish in their pouches, but swallow them almost immediately upon catching them. Baby pelicans feed by retrieving fish from the throats of their parents.

Pelicans are very social birds, traveling in flocks and breeding in colonies, either along the coastline or inland alongside rivers and lakes. The brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) was at one time considered to be ‘vulnerable’ in North America – primarily due to poisoning by chemical pesticides such as the notorious DDT which devastated the populations of many seabirds – but recent reports indicate that significant recovery has taken place and the birds’ conservation status is now that of ‘least concern’.

The Dalmation pelican (Pelecanus crispus), found in South-eastern Europe through to India and China, has the IUCN conservation status of ‘vulnerable’, while the Peruvian pelican (Pelecanus thagus) found on the Pacific Coast of South America, and the spot-billed pelican (Pelecanus philippensis) found in Southern Asia, are both considered to be ‘near threatened’. The other pelican species – pink-backed pelican (Pelecanus rufescens) found in Africa, Seychelles and southwestern Arabia; the American white pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) found in North America; the great white pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus) found in the eastern Mediterranean, Malay Peninsula and South Africa; and the Australian pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus) found in Australia, New Guinea, New Zealand, Bismarck Archipelago, Fiji and Walacea are all listed as being of ‘least concern’ from a conservation standpoint.

Pacific Biodiversity Institute Research Expedition

February 13, 2014 by  
Filed under Events

Pacific Biodiversity Institute invites avid birders to join a research expedition December 2-15, 2014, in the provinces of Salta and Jujuy in northwestern Argentina.

These provinces are renowned for their rich biodiversity and beautiful landscapes. They are ecologically diverse, with imposing mountains, extensive sub-tropical and tropical forests, rivers, canyons, deserts, salt flats and high lakes. The area is extremely rich in bird life, and other wild fauna and flora. Salta and Jujuy also contain some of the most colorful and vibrant culture in Argentina. Evidence of Inca and pre-Inca civilizations are found throughout the landscape. These provinces also contain some of the most important unprotected wildlands in Argentina.

The purpose of the expedition is twofold: 1) to gather more information about this region to aid in its further protection, 2) to introduce new people to this area of incredible contrasts, immense biodiversity, spectacular beauty and great conservation opportunity. Those interested in joining this trip may contact PBI at expeditions@pacificbio.org. Further details can be found here: http://www.pacificbio.org/expeditions/salta_jujuy2014.html

Support the 2014 Great Backyard Bird Count

February 5, 2014 by  
Filed under News

The 17th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) is set to take place from February 14 through to February 17 in multiple locations all over the world. This four day event calls on bird watchers of all ages and levels of experience to count the birds they see in one location over a fifteen-minute period. Participants need only do one fifteen-minute stint, but are welcome to do more than that if they have the time. After tallying the number of individual birds of each species spotted within the fifteen-minute time period, birders enter the data on the GBBC website.

Data gathered from all over the world is valuable to researchers in many ways, particularly when it is compared with data collected in previous years. Information from the GBBC and other projects supported by citizen-scientists help researchers determine the health of various species by monitoring changes in populations; how the weather influences bird populations; changes in the timing of annual migrations; how diseases affect birds in specific regions; and where irruptive species go when they don’t visit the same location as the previous year. It also helps researchers with a comparison of bird diversity within city limits, suburbs, rural areas and reserves.

Through projects like the GBBC, modern technology offers birders the opportunity to be part of a worldwide community, while at the same time gathering information that no team of scientist would ordinarily be able to do. Thousands of people in more than one hundred countries will be participating in the event, which is supported by the National Audubon Society, Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada. It’s also the perfect opportunity for children to learn about the importance of birds within their environment, and how birds are an indicator of the general health of the ecology. So, why not do your bit and register for the 2014 Great Backyard Bird Count.

Seventh Annual FeatherFest

February 3, 2014 by  
Filed under Events

Elks Club, Middletown, Connecticut, United States of America
Hosted by the Connecticut Parrot Society the Featherfest offers a great day of entertainment and education. Visitors can look forward to a presentation by Horizon Wings raptor rehabilitation center, as well as a discussion by Jamie Whittaker on parrot behaviour and living with a parrot. The FeatherFest also offers bird owners the opportunity to speak to veterinarians about their parrots.Children will be in awe of the parrots performing tricks and on display. There will be a number of stalls offering parrot-related goods.
For more information visit www.connecticutparrotsociety.org

Date: 22 March 2014
Time: 10:00-17:00
Location: Elks Club, Middletown, Connecticut, United States of America

Godwit Days 2014

February 3, 2014 by  
Filed under Events

The 19th Annual Godwit Days Spring Migration Bird Festival will celebrate the lovely marbled godwit. The event features field trips, workshops, boat excursions and lectures. Included in the schedule are a number activities aimed directly at kids, including kids birding trips and interesting interactive presentations.
For more information visit www.godwitdays.org.

Date: 16-22 April 2014
Location: Arcata, California, United States of America

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