Pelican (Australian) Pelecanus conspicillatus
Species: P. conspicillatus
Binomial name: Pelecanus conspicillatus
Common name: Australian pelican
The Australian pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus) is a large waterbird of the family Pelecanidae, widespread on the inland and coastal waters of Australia and New Guinea, also in Fiji, parts of Indonesia and as a vagrant in New Zealand. The species became first known to occur in New Zealand from a specimen shot at Jerusalem in 1890.
A flock of 14 pelicans on the Kaipara Harbour were first seen on 6 August 2012 and then the next day later a single bird at Kerikeri Inlet Bay of Islands was seen. The arrival of so many pelicans in New Zealand was unprecedented. Before then there had been only four previous records.
During the 12 months following the 2012 pelicans arrival, small flocks and lone individuals were been seen on rivers and harbours throughout the northern North Island, from Parengarenga Harbour south to the Waikato River. The maximum count reported was 18 birds together near Tapora on the Kaipara Harbour in April 2013.
Birdwatchers were dismayed to hear that up to four pelicans had been shot on the Wairoa River south of Dargaville (just before the maximum count was reported). Then one was found freshly shot near Meremere on the Waikato River on 21 May 2013. Fortunately some birds survived, and up to ten pelicans continued to be reported from the Wairoa River.
The Australian pelican has a wingspan of up to 2.6 m and can weigh up to 13 kg.It is a predominantly white bird with black wings and a pink bill. The pale, pinkish bill is enormous (> 50 cm) and is the largest bill in the avian world. They feed by plunge-diving while swimming on the surface of the water. They mainly eat insects, aquatic crustaceans and fish, but they will also consume birds and will scavenge for scraps.
A bird in flight.
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