Friday, March 8, 2013

Synchronized Fishing

White Pelicans have always been one of my favorite snow birds. While beautiful Brown Pelicans are a common year-round sight around the coastal areas of Florida, their enormous pale relatives are only found here during the winter months. While American White Pelicans share some physical characteristics with Brown Pelicans, they differ greatly in the way they capture their favorite food, fish.


The cooperative feeding technique used by White Pelicans is vastly different from the plunge dive used by the Brown Pelicans. At a local pond, I recently had the pleasure of watching  a large group of White Pelicans  performing a synchronized fishing routine.


When I first arrived the White Pelicans were foraging along side of a group of Double-crested Cormorants. These two species sometimes forage together as their feeding techniques compliment one another. As the Cormorants dive beneath the water to fish, the fish swim upwards only to be scooped up by the waiting Pelicans.


Working together, with power and grace, the Pelicans were corralling the fish in the swallow water. Sometimes they formed a circle around the fish and other times they swam in a line and drove the fish to shore where they were easier catch.


  It was incredible to watch how well they coordinated their timing.





A Pelican's large pouch is capable of holding up to 3 gallons of water, and apparently some really large fish.


This Pelican was having  difficulty getting this large fish down. The line from the old limerick "its beak can hold more than his belly can" was ringing true for this bird.


While White Pelicans are known to be cooperative feeders, I did observe a few situations where cooperation turned into competition.




This pelican decided to try and quietly sneak away for the group to try and swallow its large catch in peace!


Tammy Karr
www.iheartfloridabirds.blogspot.com

23 comments:

  1. Great site! Your style is so refreshing compared to most other people. Post thank you for every time you get the chance, I'll be sure to save your website!
    burun estetigi

    ReplyDelete
  2. fabulous photographs; you were in a minefield of pelicans and the lovely cormorants too. My, great catches!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Tammy I am impressed beyond words by your magnificent captures of these White Pelicans and Cormorants in this action sequence. Your the best! My thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Tammy we just love, love, love your pictures! I appreciate Florida with new eyes, beauty missed becomes awesome. Your passion for nature warms my heart, I have become a nature snooper, not wanting to miss anything! So proud of your gift and sharing! xxxxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much for your comments!

      Delete
  5. Woah woah woah! Awesome shots Tammy.

    That fish certainly is a mouthful (or two or three). To weigh the merits of that massive throat pouch vs. teeth... More food catching and gulping ability, but no fissiparous feeding. It's too bad they don't like cereal! That'd be an easy food item for that pouch.

    Really cool post.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much for your comments, Laurence! It was really cool to watch these pelicans catch these huge fish. I'm pretty sure they wiped out the population of large fish the first day they were there!

      Delete
  6. Very cool post Tammy! I enjoyed reading this and thinking about how we share these birds. We have loads of them in Idaho during the summer, but not in the winter while they are enjoying your Florida sunshine. We do get to see their strange fin on the top of their bills during mating season. There are so many White Pelicans in some locations that their numbers have to be "controlled" by fish and game standards and methods. Their feeding methods on Idaho lakes and reservoirs is the same as you show here. Are they on salt or fresh water where you are?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comments, Robert! I did notice quite a few of these pelicans starting to develop their fibrous plates on their bills; it looks so strange. They are in fresh water here. Sometimes I see them in the river, which is a salt/fresh water mix. They should be heading your way soon!

      Delete
  7. What a great series of pelicans have made ​​tammy.
    What a big fish in the beak may have.
    Greetings Irma

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your comments, Irma!

      Delete
  8. face = melty. I see white pelicans pretty often but rarely get to see this feeding behavior. Awesome.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Love all them Pelicans!!! They are such incredible birds with a BIG appetite!! I love the lighting here. They glow in the sun:) Keep them coming!:)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Great shot capturing the fish in his mouth.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Wonderful series, Tammy! The capacity of their beak "pouches" is really astonishing. Great post!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Marvelous White Pelican behavior post! I was not aware that these pelicans had a different feeding technique than the Brown Pelicans. Very interesting. Your photographs show off this behavior perfectly. Wow, that was quite a mouthful for the one pelican in particular. Awesome!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Tammy, these photos are OUTSTANDING! Love this post! Amazing behavior to witness and capture on camera!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Amazing series of captures here Tammy! That looked like quite the team effort from the pelicans and quite a fight for a huge fish in the end there! In the end slide, was the pelican really able to swallow that whole fish entirely?? It looked like the food wasn't too happy to be eaten, it must have put up some fight as well! Does the fish fight/wriggle about inside the pouch a lot, does it stand any chance of escaping or can the bird manage eating it all at once?! Great story as well, keep it up! ;)

    -Kyle

    Reply: Mexicankyle35@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete