Sunday, March 29, 2009

Brown pelicans and brown noddies feeding on fish together

The brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) is the only pelican species known to catch fish by divebombing. Upon emerging from a dive, a pelican shakes the water from its plumage and drains the water from its pouch to be able to swallow the fish. Brown pelicans of the Galápagos Islands are often followed by brown or common noddies (Anous stolidus), tropical seabirds of the tern family. The behavioral scientist Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt reports the following from his Galápagos expedition:
After a pelican caught fish, a brown noddy was landing on his head and tried to get a piece of the pelican's catch. With each catch, a pelican picks up many litres [over a gallon] of water into his flexible pouch. It releases this water by slightly opening its bill, while pointing the bill downward. Only thereafter, a pelican can swallow the remaining fish. During this procedure, the brown noddy is waiting for the pelican to open its bill, hoping to prey on some pieces while the pelican is tossing and swallowing its catch.
Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt: Galápagos. Die Arche Noah im Pazifik. 2. Auflage, Piper Verlag GmbH, München, Mai 2001; pages 369-371. Cited text freely translated from German by Axel Drefahl.

Keywords: brown noddy, brown pelican, pouch, divebombing, fish catch
Stichwörter: Braune Seeschwalbe, braune Pelikan, Kehlsack, Stoßtauchen, Fischbeute

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