Watt's Pic of the Week
A wonderful bird is a pelican,
His bill will hold more than his belican.
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week;
But I'm damned if I see how the helican.
"The Pelican" (1910) by Dixon Lanire Merrith, often misattributed to Ogden Nash
Modern pelicans are found on all continents except Antarctica. From the fossil record, it is known that pelicans have been around for over 40 million years, the earliest fossil Pelecanus being found in early Miocene deposits in France.
They often catch fish by expanding the throat pouch. Then they must drain the pouch above the surface before they can swallow. This operation takes up to a minute, during which time other seabirds are particularly likely to steal the fish. Pelicans in their turn sometimes pirate prey from other seabirds.
The Brown Pelican of North America usually plunge-dives for its prey.
Photo by Mike Watt