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.
Budgies are extremely popular little birds, having been around for decades. They come in many different colors; including green, white, blue, yellow, and mixtures of different colors. Although they are small, they should be fed at least two different kinds of fruits every day, three different kinds of vegetables, and a mixture of pellets and seeds. Budgies are relatively good talkers, and over a long period of time can learn a number of words.
Although many people do not know it, there are two different kinds of budgies. They are not different species; they are the first parrot to particularly have ‘breeds’. The more common of the two is the American budgie; more commonly known as a parakeet. These little birds are commonly seen in pet shops and are extremely popular, especially with breeders and first-time bird owners. They usually live around 15 to 20 years – not including birds with diseases or injuries.
English budgies are a bit larger than American budgies and are bred for bird shows, rather than as pets. However, this does not mean they make bad pets; they are still nice birds. However, they have a shorter lifespan, and usually live around seven years.
Although their names do not suggest it, budgies are actually from Australia. They are ground feeders and mainly eat grasses and seeds. However, this does not mean they need a seed-based diet in captivity – they do not fly for miles as wild budgies would, so the fat from the seeds would build up quickly.
They have complex emotions like larger parrots and need to be treated with respect. Budgies cannot be taught tricks with negative reinforcement and need to always be treated kindly. They are still capable of biting, as sweet as they may be, and cannot be squeezed.
Budgies are easy to find at shelters and pet shops, even breeders. If you take interest in one of these special pets, make sure you are able to take care of them properly. If you are, and you think they are the right pet for you, invest in a large cage, a good pelleted diet, perches and toys. If you have decided, good luck on your new bird!
Article contributed by: Eliza Kuklinski.
Rosellas (genus Platycercus) can be found in the wild in various countries around the world, but are most commonly found in Australia. They tend to remain near the coast, inhabiting coastal plains and mountain regions, but can also be found in city parks and in the gardens of local residents. This beautiful and colorful parrot has also become popular as a pet bird, and there are a few facts and care requirements that future pet owners should be aware of before they decide to take on a Rosella as a new member of the household.
Growing to approximately thirty centimeters in size, Rosellas are one of the smaller parrot species. They are divided into two general groups, namely the white cheek and blue cheek group. Within these groups are various different Rosellas, such as the Tasmanian Eastern Rosella and the Golden Mantled Rosella that fall under the white cheek group, while the Crimson Rosella and the Adelaide Rosella are in the blue cheek group. They make wonderful pets as they have a lifespan of more than twenty years. Housing a Rosella in a metal cage or aviary is advisable, as they enjoy chewing on timber and wood. Cages and aviaries should also be large enough so the Rosellas are able to fly and get a certain amount of exercise. They do enjoy human companionship, but need a little freedom to enjoy a fulfilled life. A small bath is also recommended, as Rosellas enjoy bathing and playing in water.
These magnificent birds have a wide variety of dietary needs, so owners should be vigilant in offering their Rosellas more than just the usual mix of grey striped sunflower seeds, canary seeds and hulled oats. Rosellas also eat seeding grasses, berries, fruit and nectar, which are essential to their wellbeing. Breeding pairs should be kept on their own, as this will prevent the production of hybrids and birds should only be allowed to breed when they are between eighteen to twenty-four months old. Breeding pairs have been known to raise young until the age of ten years old. Over and above being spectacularly beautiful, Rosellas are very rewarding birds to have as pets. They are colorful companions and make wonderful additions to the family.
The captivating The Birdman’s Birds Down Under Bird Show, kicked off on 3 July 2010, and will be ending on 15 August 2010, so now is the time to get down to the Blank Park Zoo to ensure you do not miss out on this birding spectacular. The show, which is hosted by Joe Krathwohl (aka The Birdman), will introduce a variety of Australian birds to the public, such as parakeets, Kookaburra, wonga pigeons, diamond doves, silver gulls, eclectus parrots and much more.
For more information, visit the Blank Park Zoo website at http://www.blankparkzoo.com/index.cfm?nodeID=18240&audienceID=1.
Date: 9 August 2010
Venue: Blank Park Zoo
City: Des moines, Iowa
Country: United States
Bird owners and breeders will be displaying their most prized birds at the Sydney Royal Cage Bird Show 2010, in the hope of winning this years’ prize. Entries for the show closed on 20 January, and visitors to the show can prepare themselves for a spectacular day of birds and tough competition. Different judges have been brought in to judge under the various categories, such as Colin Isbister for the African Lovebirds, Mr. J. Baker and Mr. A. MacCauley for Budgerigars, Mr. P. Southgate and Mr. J. Farr for Canaries and Mr. A. St Clair for Parrots.
For more information in regard to the judges, competition rules and vendors, visit the Sydney Royal website at http://www.sydneyroyalshows.com.au/.
Date: 31 March 2010
Venue: Wynne Pavilion, Sydney Showground