A Wonderful Bird is the Pelican...

...His mouth can hold more than his belly can. He can hold it in his beak, enough food for a week! I'm damned if I know how the helican. So wrote Dixon Lanier Merrit in 1910, a Southern newspaper editor and President of the American Press Humorists Association.

Like all large sea birds, they sometimes have difficulty taking off, and these Australian pelicans (Pelecanus conspicillatus) are no exception. Pelicans are gregarious, are quick to exploit any resource, and can live on fresh or salt water. If fed regularly they can become quite tame.

Australian pelican taking off

I am reminded of Storm Boy the 1977 feature film, where a boy rescues three orphaned pelican chicks. Although he and his father set the adult birds free, one returns to become Mike's pet Mr Percival. All of a sudden there are intruders in Mike's world, from a local teacher who wants him to go to school, to hunters. Storm Boy, shot entirely on location in South Australia, was a considerable hit at the local box office. It was based on a novel of the same title by Colin Thiele.

Australian pelican in flight.

Despite being heavy (up to 8.2kg), once airborne pelicans' large broad wings enable them to soar gracefully and effortlessly in circles on thermal currents, and they have been recorded at altitudes of as much as 3000 metres. They are excellent fliers, capable of sustained long-distance migrations and able to exercise enormous control and precision both in the air and on water.

These stills are taken from an NHNZ Images movie clip, and like other postings on this blog the clips are avaialbe for sale for your production, whether that be for television, museum exhibition, educational or home-video use.