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Pelicans Go Fishing

The difference between American White Pelicans and Brown Pelicans!
© Dan & Lin Dzurisin View Large

Unlike Brown Pelicans, which dive from above to capture fish, White Pelicans feed by forming a group. They swim in a line, and—while herding a school of fish—all dip their heads at once. The pelican's broad bill spreads its huge pouch, as the bird pushes through the water. As each bird lifts its head, water drains out of the pouch, and the fish go down with a gulp. Both Brown and White Pelicans have been declining. But fortunately, conservation has helped and their numbers have increased. 

This story was produced with support from the Bobolink Foundation.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 
BirdNote®
Pelicans Go Fishing -
Two Pelicans with Different Tactics

Written by Dennis Paulson

This is BirdNote.

[Sound of Brown Pelican diving]

How do pelicans catch fish? There are two kinds of pelicans in North America – the White and the Brown. And they’ve evolved different tactics to capture their prey.
White Pelicans [American White Pelican grunting call] form a group, swim in a line, and – while herding a school of fish – all dip their heads at once. The White Pelican’s broad bill spreads its huge pouch, as the bird pushes through the water. As each bird lifts its head, water drains out of the pouch, and the fish go down with a gulp. These pelicans breed on western lakes and winter on shallow salt water. [American White Pelican grunting call]

Brown Pelicans [call of Brown Pelican] capture fish from above, without warning. Brown Pelicans are smaller than White and fly along our coasts in flocks. Their bills are narrow, so they can cleave the deeper ocean water in a dive. When they spot a fish, they plummet straight down [big splash] and the pouch opens to engulf the prey.
Fortunately, ‘though both species have been declining, even rare, at times, conservation has helped and their numbers have increased.

Today’s show brought to you by the Lufkin Family Foundation. You can form a line with your friends, or dive solo, to gulp down more info about pelicans—at our website birdnote.org. I’m Mary McCann. [big splash]

###

Sounds of the White Pelican provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Grunting call of American White Pelican [38322] recorded by Theodore A. Parker III.
Brown Pelican recorded by Martyn Stewart of naturesound.org
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2015 Tune In to Nature.org     December 2013/2017   Narrator: Mary McCann

ID# SotB-pelicans-01-2011-12-21    

 

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