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Inspiring and Supporting Photographers of Australian Birds

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Australian Pelican

Australian Pelican (Image ID 43733)
Photographed byMichael Hamel-Green on Fri 27th Nov, 2020 and uploaded on Sat 5th Dec, 2020 .
Resolution1400x909
Viewed49
ID43733
CommentThese Australian Pelicans were amongst the first birds I sighted from the Chiltern Valley Dam No.2 bird hide in the Chiltern National Park. I watched the pair for over an hour as they went through their morning preening routines, side by side, almost touching. A very close couple indeed, in keeping with Pelican monogamous tradition. At one point, as the photo shows, they displayed their extraordinary throat pouches in yin-yang fashion, lit up from behind by the morning sun. Their unfurled “pouch sails” formed a perfect symmetry that expressed their relationship and what makes their species so distinctive. The camel has its hump, the pelican has its pouch, and (the more portly) humans have their paunch. Of course, there is more to pelican pouch sails than their expressiveness. They are very effective for sweeping up and holding fish, then positioning the unfortunate victims for swallowing; and, of course, during breeding season for storing food for offspring. No doubt the Pelican pouch plays an ecological role in keeping invasive European carp in check. According to one account, they play an important ecosystem role in dispersing plant species: they feed upon plant-eating fish and transplant plant propagules to other places, thereby recolonizing wetlands with little vegetation (http://animalia.bio/australian-pelican). As one of our largest birds, and the one with the biggest beak in the world, pelicans capture our imagination like few other birds. As poet Jim Yerman writes of a child musing while sitting “Underneath the Imagination Tree”: “I’d love to ride on the back of a pelican…I can imagine how much fun that would be…I’d drag my hands along the water as we glide across the sea” (https://www.poetrysoup.com/poem/underneath_the_imagination_tree_1286950).
EquipmentNikon Z7 with Nikon 300mm PF f/4 telephoto
ISO 800
1/800th f13
LocationChiltern Valley Dam No.2, Chiltern-Mt Pilot National Park, Victoria
Keywordsadult, behaviour/display
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