Monday, 5 September 2011

Spot-billed pelican

Pelecanus philippensis

Photo by J.M. Garg (Wikipedia)

Common name:

Order Pelecaniformes
Family Pelecanidae

Once widespread in southern Asia, this species is now mostly confined to India, Sri Lanka and Cambodia, with smaller populations also found in Indonesia, Myanmar and Thailand.
These birds are 125-152 cm long and have a wingspan of 200-220 cm. They weigh 4-6 kg.
Spot-billed pelicans are found in lowland freshwater, brackish, and marine wetlands, usually near open water.
They mostly eat fish, but sometimes also small reptiles, amphibians, and aquatic crustaceans.
Spot-billed pelicans breed in October-April. They form colonies, with the females building stick nests in the branches of a tree, 5-30 m above the ground, using sticks collected by the male. The female lays 2-3 white eggs which are incubated for 30-33 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge about 3 months after hatching.
IUCN status - NT (Near-Threatened)
This species has a relatively confined breeding range and a global population of 13.000-18.000 individuals. The species declined rapidly during the 20th century, but in recent years these declines appear to have stabilised, with at least some populations apparently now increasing in response to improved protection. The main threats affecting this species are human disturbance at breeding colonies and wetlands, extensive felling of nesting trees, hunting and poaching of eggs and chicks, loss of important feeding-sites through siltation, agricultural intensification, aquaculture development, drainage and conversion of wetlands, declines in wetland productivity as a result of pesticide use, and over-exploitation of fisheries. There is also some persecution resulting from competition between the birds and fishermen.

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