Pelicans, the squat-looking ungainly birds, the least aerodynamic-looking shape, a gait like a Duck’s, is the most unimpressive bird to look at. But wait, the Pelican has some unique characters which would put any one into an awe-inspiring mood, apart from its unique Gular pouch (the fold of loose skin like a bag, drooping loose from its lower mandible) which can hold close to 3-4 gallons of water and the flight of this bird.
The flight of the Pelican, a mastery in flight manoeuvring and agility is something seen to be admired. Its powerful take-off from the water surface, getting air-borne within a few seconds and gaining altitude before you can spell altitude and all this appearing like in slow motion — an awesome sight to behold. It is this mastery in flight manoeuvring that gives the Pelican another ability — to scoop-up a pouch full of water, on the wings, effortlessly from the lake or river.
These pictures show how the Pelican flies low over the water surface to scoop-up water into its pouch. This scooping-up of water on the wings is done only by parenting Pelicans to take the water to its nest close by in an island to feed the growing thirsty chicks.
In normal times, the Pelican drinks water like any other bird, on the ground, filling beak-full and drinking.
—Ragoo Rao, Ethologist
[Pics by M.N. Lakshminarayana Yadav]