The World of Pelicans

Sep 5, 2010

This brief article on Pelicans and the several pictures is a reminder to amateur bird lovers that it is relatively easy to photograph birds in their natural surroundings, if only one could devote a fair amount of time and energy in studying these graceful   flying machines.  The only prerequisite being a disciplined and an inquisitive mind.

Recently, (August, 19th, 2010) Daijiworld, as part of the decennial celebrations, showcased the wide-ranging photographs of a remarkable and talented photographer, Dayanand Kukkage at St. Aloysius College premises. An interactive session on photography was also arranged both for amateur and budding photographers with the help of leading photographers. We were truly amazed at the participation; both from the public as well as the students and their hunger to learn more on the subject of photography.

This article is primarily written to impart confidence to young students who have a desire for learning; that photography is all about creativity and looking beyond the four corners of a photograph. Even though, an expensive camera is required for professional photos, a fairly good camera can also capture stunning photographs. The first and most important rule is to keep experimenting. The same picture should be clicked both with auto and programmee mode with different ISO settings. For the novice, a simple suggestion as to when and where to look for birds with great success might prove helpful. Despite the fact that birds are on the move all day long, their activity is greatest in the early morning hours. More importantly, the filtered sunlight in the early dawn is the ideal light to photograph not only birds but also other forms of wildlife.

We would like to take our readers to a new world - the world of pelicans. The pictures of the spot billed pelican were clicked at the Ranganathittu Bird sanctuary in Mysore.

The world over, there are eight species of pelicans, found on all continents except Antarctica. India is home to two types; the spot billed (Grey) and the white (Rosy) pelican. The spot billed pelican is one of the most threatened of the eight species of pelicans in the world with an estimated population of 10,000 to 15,000. The total population is estimated to number 2,500–5,000 individuals in South Asia, 3,000–5,000individuals in South-East Asia and <25 individuals in Sumatra . The ICUN has warned that the number of breeding pairs is rapidly declining due to human disturbance at the nesting sites, poaching, hunting and conversion of wetlands. Habitat loss and fragmentation is also significantly contributing to the rapid decline in numbers.

A large squat water bird with grey or grayish white coloration and a brown nuchal crest. The bird has short stout legs, and their feet with all four toes webbed. The enormous heavy flattened bill is adapted to efficiently catch fish. The tail is short and square. The wings are long with a number of unusually large numbers of secondary flight feathers. A flesh colored gular pouch has a bluish purple wash.  At close range the blue spots on upper mandible and on gular pouch help in distinguishing the male from the female. Despite their big size, the birds can quickly and effortlessly fly away from danger and once launched fly with steady rhythmical wing beats, head drawn in between the shoulders. A group of pelicans is called a pod.

DISTRIBUTION: Well watered tracts throughout the Indian Union. 
WINGSPAN: 6 TO 11 feet depending on the species
WEIGHT: 4.5 TO 7.5 Kilograms depending on the species
LIFE SPAN: Up to 30 years
RANGE: Breeds in the well watered parts of South, south east and east India.
NESTING: A large platform in tall trees, often far from water. Several nests in the same tree.
SEASON: November to April
EGGS: Three chalky white colored eggs. Both sexes incubate the eggs.
INCUBATION: 28 to 36 days depending on species
AGE OF FLEDGE: 60 to 76 days after hatching
REPRODUCTION: The hatching percentage is pretty high but once the eggs are hatched, because of the competition from other siblings, only one survives
DIET: Fish, amphibians, Crustaceans.
MODE OF CATCHING FISH:  Fish by cooperative effort, swimming in a semi circle, driving the fish into shallow waters before scooping up the prey in the gular pouches.
STATUS ACCORDING TO 2010 IUCN Red List Category: Near Threatened


The campus, may it be a school or college; is the right place for exchange of ideas and display of photographs on the notice board. To begin with, it is important to start a Bird watching Club and invite skilled photographers to deliver talks with PowerPoint presentations. A few members of the club could also share their experiences and the difficulties encountered in photographing birds in the wild habitat. Over a period of time the members could upload their photographs and establish a web linked network to share knowledge and pictures with bird watchers across the globe. Just as a bird which has no physical boundaries, is capable of flying to different continents, so also in the age of the internet, humans can share wildlife information across continents at the click of a mouse. ?  Come; join us in making a positive difference to planet earth by joining one or the other groups that protects and safeguards wildlife and their habitat. !

We use the following equipment for our wild life photography
Camera: Canon EOS 40 D
Lens: Sigma 125/ 500 mm.

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by Dr Anand & Geeta Pereira
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Comment on this article

  • Erin Bennett, Oregon, USA

    Mon, Jul 18 2011

    Beautiful photos - I am a park ranger here. We have American White Pelicans and I am doing a campfire program to educate visitors about these birds. Excellent article, please keep up your important work!

  • Dinesh, Bangalore

    Wed, Sep 29 2010

    Nice way of educating both students and Public on the importance of conservation. Fantastic pictures and a very Knowledgable article. Thank you Drs anand and Geeta

  • Archana, Mangalore

    Thu, Sep 23 2010

    Bird conservation practices are increasingly necessary to address the impacts of human activities that have accelerated extinctions and continue to threaten bird populations worldwide.
    Habitat loss and fragmentation, overexploitation, chemical toxins and pollution, as well as introduced diseases, predators, and competitors are some of the threats that need to be addressed to reverse bird declines and maintain healthy populations.
    Very informative article. thank you all.

  • Praveen, chilmbi,Mangalore

    Thu, Sep 23 2010

    These are fantastic finds and could have important implications for people as well as for ecotourists. Thank you Daiji Drs anand and Geeta

  • Jagadish Anchan, Mangalore

    Wed, Sep 22 2010

    THank you for educating us and introducing all rare birds to the common man.
    Thanks Dr. Anand & Mrs Geeta Anand

  • Raji, Mangalore

    Tue, Sep 07 2010

    Thank you dr.anand & Geeta for updating our knowledge about rare and endangered wildlife.

  • Krishnaraj, Mysore

    Tue, Sep 07 2010

    Conservation is all about caring and sharing the resource so that all are benefitted. very good work Dr.Anand, Geeta and Daiji.

  • Neetha, Mangalore

    Mon, Sep 06 2010

    Nice pictures and excellent information. Not sure if these birds pair for life after nesting.
    Conservation is the watch word in developed Countries,India being blessed with abundant wildlife, we need to do more to protect wildlife habitats. Thank you daiji

  • Girija, Cochin

    Mon, Sep 06 2010

    These magnificient birds are loosing out in terms of breeding pairs because of habitat loss. Timely reminder by Dr.Anand & Geeta to do something more to protect these rare birds. thank you all.

  • earanna, Bangalore

    Mon, Sep 06 2010

    Valuable information for both staff and students teaching environmental science.As rightly pointed out for amateurs, clicking pictures of big birds is relatively easy compared to the small ones. thank you daiji.

  • Leena, Bangalore

    Mon, Sep 06 2010

    Excellent stuff. Every article is special and thought provoking.cant thank you enough for the effort you put in to enlighten nature loving citizens.

  • Suguna, Bangalore

    Mon, Sep 06 2010

    Good to hear that the spot billed pelican is near threatened.Awareness through your pictures and articles will go along way in safeguarding the dwindling population. Thank you Daiji for the encouragement.

  • Goutam, Bangalore

    Mon, Sep 06 2010

    Enjoy every article and pictures because they are real. There is so much to learn from the very many facts that you two have elaborated on pelicans. Thank you.

  • Ivan Frank , Mangalore

    Mon, Sep 06 2010

    Pelicans look impressive with their large beaks,long necks and short legs. Very informative article. Thank you Anand and Geeta.

  • Antony Herbert Crasta, Mangalore/Sydney,Australia

    Sun, Sep 05 2010

    I remember the small sized white pelicans very well in my younger years, which used to swarm and inundate our farm in numbers, and in fact, I used to hate them quite often, because they ate away all the crustaceans and fishes in our rice fields and from the side-by streams, especially in the summer, thus depriving me of my chances of catching fish during my frequent outings.

    Of course, I am not sure whether those white pelicans belonged to the rather large sized pelicans discuseed and displayed in this article, for, they were small in size, may be one or two kilos in total weight. All the same, one more interesting article by Dr. Ananda and Geeta which is very informative and educative.

  • Basavaraj, Bangalore

    Sun, Sep 05 2010

    We have met Dr.Anand & geeta in person and have seen their work regarding conservation for the past two decades. We need such dedicated people to educate one and all regarding the unique wildlife treasure that is home to India. Thank you Daiji for carrying such wonderful nature friendly articles.

  • Errol, Mangalore

    Sun, Sep 05 2010

    I love nature and this article in particular because I have seen the spot billed pelicans at close quarters, These big birds are powerful swimmers and it is a pretty sight to see them corner fish and gulp them down with their big beak. Thank you dr.Anand , Geeta and daiji.

  • Sugam, Mangalore

    Sun, Sep 05 2010

    We often go through your articles and pick up ideas pertaining to wildlife habitats and the ways and means of protecting these hotspots. Happy to note that you have created alot of awareness regarding conservation by showing photographs which have been clicked by you. This way, it is possible to get motivated to visit these places and learn more about wildlife. Thank you for your precious time .

  • Rakesh, Bangalore

    Sun, Sep 05 2010

    Excellent article and photographs.
    Conservation can commence at any level. Even a small group of people can gettogether and start bird clubs and exchange ideas. Thank you Daijiworld.

  • Pavithra, Kodagu

    Sun, Sep 05 2010

    Spot billed pelicans can be seen not only in Ranganthittu but also in Karanji lake. however, it is very difficult to photograph them at close range because they are shy and weary of humans.Thank you for the excellent information.

  • Sathyanarayan, U.S.A.

    Sun, Sep 05 2010

    Thank you for highlighting , yet another endangered species of bird. Since pelican diet includes crustaceans and fish, the water pollutants in the form of sewage getting into fresh water systems needs to be checked. Pollution can significantly affect the spot billed popullation, once estimated at hundred thousand.Thank you all.

  • Harsha, Mangalore

    Sun, Sep 05 2010

    Curious to know if these birds are related to Cormorants and ducks. May be these birds have the longest beak compared to any other bird. Thank you for enriching our knowlede.

  • Terence, Mangalore

    Sun, Sep 05 2010

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and pictures on wildlife. In the coming years, the country can attract alot of foreign tourists to these bird sanctuaries, but they need to do it on professional lines. the income generated can be put back to conserve wildlife.

  • Gaurav, Madikeri,Kodagu

    Sun, Sep 05 2010

    At times these big birds can be spotted on the edges of large water tanks. really very happy to learn more about these beautiful birds. Thank you Dr.Anand Geeta and Daiji.

  • Nimmoo, Bangalore

    Sun, Sep 05 2010

    Always look forward for your highly educative and informative articles. I often send this link to friends so that more awareness is created. This is my way of helping you and daijiworld in spreading the good work on conservation.

  • Sumathi, Bangalore

    Sun, Sep 05 2010

    To spot pelicans in Mysore is really amazing.Now that you have enlightened us on these rare birds, will take time out during the weekends to go to Ranganthittu bird sanctuary. thank you .

  • Dr. Suresh, Bangalore

    Sun, Sep 05 2010

    Evolution has produced an amazing variety of wildlife and the most important part is that humans need to protect this precious treasure. Not only schools and colleges, but every place may it be a housing society or association should form eco preservation clubs.Thank you Dr.anand Geeta AND DAIJI

  • Vikram, Bangalore

    Sun, Sep 05 2010

    Excellent article. One suggestion, Conservation can gain momentum with the efforts of Institutional support , both from Government and NGOs.

  • Swathi, California/U.S.

    Sun, Sep 05 2010

    The human impact on wildlife has also been connected with the changing social fabric. Lesser the human population, better the chances of wildlife survival. This article with facts , figures and excellent pictures is a good way of educating people. Daijiworld has taken the lead by providing valuable space to conservationists like Dr Anand and Geeta to enlighten society on the need to limit the environmental impact by humans.

  • Suguna, Bangalore

    Sun, Sep 05 2010

    The impact of human activities on the dwindling wildlife is a matter of great concern. We need to remember that Pelicans are migratory birds and whenever they nest in India, they are our esteemed guests and we need to take care of them.Thank you Daijiworld, Dr.Anand and Geeta

  • Arpitha, Newjersey/ U.S.

    Sun, Sep 05 2010

    The dependency of human beings on nature, in spite of rapid progress in the field of science and technology is undeniable. The wilderness areas, not only in India but globally is on the decline. Urgent measures need to be taken to restore habitats. This beautiful article and pictures by Dr.Anand and Geeta is a timely reminder for one and all to do their bit in conserving nature. Thank you Daijiworld for the conservation efforts.

  • Dr. Jacob , U.K.

    Sun, Sep 05 2010

    The article and pictures by Dr Anand and Geeta is a nice way of sensitizing the youngsters to undertake conservation measures at an early age. In fact, in Europe and other Western Countries children and students can learn and interact with birds in artificial enclosures developed on the lines of the Rainforests. Thank you .

  • Allen Pais, Mysore/Dubai

    Sun, Sep 05 2010

    Dear Dr Anand & Geeta,Excellent pictures,There are a lot of variety in your pictures,Wonderfull to know that India is home for the Pelicans,Definetively this article is a good example for Students to take up to photography & learn more in depth about photography,The pictures are wonderfull especially seeing that you have used Canon EOS 40 D,Great work & Keep up the good work,Regards-Allen Pais

  • Cavery, Coorg

    Sun, Sep 05 2010

    Dear Dr.Anand & Geeta, we have often seen these big birds gliding gracefully in and around Mysore, but never knew that they were endangered. The article is full of valuable information. Thanks to Daijiworld for promoting co nservation.

  • adshenoy, mangloor

    Sat, Sep 04 2010

    Drs. Anand and Geeta, these are magnificent creatures of God indeed. Thank you for sharing this information - both educative and informative.

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