GREAT WHITE PELICAN
by NIKOS SAMARITAKIS
The Great White Pelican also known as the Eastern White Pelican or White Pelican is a bird in the pelican family. It breeds from southeastern Europe through Asia and in Africa in swamps and shallow lakes.
The diet of the Great White Pelican consists mainly of fish. Each pelican needs about 1.4 kg of fish every day. This corresponds to around 28 million kilograms of fish every year consumed at the largest colony of Great White Pelicans, on Tanzania’s Lake Rukwa, with almost 75000 birds. Pelicans are not restricted to fish, however, and are often opportunistic foragers. In some situations they eat chicks of other birds, such as the well documented case off the southwest coast of South Africa. Here breeding Pelicans from the Dassen Island colony predate chicks up to 2 kg from the Cape Gannet colony on Malgas Island. Great White Pelicans also eat crustaceans, tadpoles and even turtles. They readily accept handouts from humans, and a number of unusual items have been recorded in their diet. During periods of starvation, pelicans also eat seagulls and ducklings. The gulls are held under water and drowned before being eaten headfirst. Pelicans will also rob other birds of their prey.
American White Pelican