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 Post subject: diving pelicans?
PostPosted: September 2nd, 2009, 11:57 am 
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Joined: January 22nd, 2005, 12:16 pm
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Location: Toronto
I read in some SK canoe literature says that pelicans fish by dipping their bills, not by diving.
But from the ferry across Lake Winnipeg from Bloodvein, we saw pelicans diving from maybe 5 m.
???

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 Post subject: Re: diving pelicans?
PostPosted: September 2nd, 2009, 12:27 pm 
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Joined: June 9th, 2005, 2:27 pm
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Location: Saskatoon
I'm no ornithologist but I fumble at trying to identify birds. Pelicans are the one I have down pat. ;) That would have been really neat to see! Such a big bird doing a dive would be an impressive sight.

According to whatbird.com you must have been seeing things. ;) http://identify.whatbird.com/obj/268/behavior/American_White_Pelican.aspx
Quote:
Unlike the Brown Pelican, this bird does not plunge dive for food.


Perhaps the behaviour you observed is of interest to an ornithologist? Are there any bird-people on the forum?

A few years ago I was at Scoop Rapids on the Sturgeon-Weir River. This is a common feeding place for pelicans and they are seen standing on the rocks gobbling up the fish. I was lucky enough to see a pelican catch a fish that day (the only time I've seen it). The Pelican dipped it's beak in the water and came up with what looked like a 4lb walleye in cross-wise in the beak. It threw it's head upward and the fish slipped into the large distendable beak and you could see the fish shape in the beak. The pelican kept it's beak straight up in the air and shook it's head causing the fish to go down it's neck. You could see the fish slide down the neck and the neck distended to accommodate the fish. The thing was, this was still a living and valiantly fighting fish! At one point the sides of the neck came way outward as the fish flipped crosswise in the throat. The pelican just kept shaking it's head and in a couple of seconds the fish was in the bird's crop where, presumably, the battle came to an end.

Cheers,
Bryan

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 Post subject: Re: diving pelicans?
PostPosted: September 2nd, 2009, 1:58 pm 
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Joined: January 22nd, 2005, 12:16 pm
Posts: 4044
Location: Toronto
That's what I read in my bird books too!
The only explanation that occurs to me was that they were brown pelicans on Lake Winnipeg; they sure looked white though. And they sure made a splash when they hit. Somewhere I read that the mortality rate is quite high from broken necks.
In five weeks on the Churchill, we didn't see a single pelican eating anything; and I can't recall seeing even one with its bill in the water.

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