10 things you might not know about Pelicans

When Pelicans take flight across the horizon of the Sea of Cortez, it is a moment of wonder. While visiting our beach town, please take a moment to look up to the sky, pause, and watch the rise and fall of the graceful show. I’m amazed every day at the peaceful and serene flight of beauty in the sky. When you visit Rocky Point, you’re sure to see a pelican, probably hundreds of them on your visit. Do you take the time to look up and watch their sky dance?

The Pelicans are all around us, diving into the Sea, gliding across the water, and putting on a sky show worth watching, but how much do we really know about pelicans? This question came up when I had some friends from Arizona visiting our lovely beach town. They stated they were so sad to hear that Pelicans die from starvation because they go blind.

They repeated a story a man in the Malecon had told them. The man told them most Pelicans die from starvation, because they go blind from the fast speed of diving when they catch fish.

Pelicans go blind from diving at high speeds into the Sea of Cortez? Really? I had never heard that story before, and as a loyal Pelican watcher, it instantly saddened me. I decided to do some research on pelicans. I’m familiar with them as I watch them every night at rush-hour, (that is pelican rush-hour), which is typically right before the sunset. If you take the time to sit out on the beach, or on a balcony right before sunset, about one hour before the sun drops into the sea, and study the flight of the pelican, you will be in awe. You will see the beautiful, synchronized dance of the rise and fall of the pods of pelicans gliding over the Sea of Cortez.

10 fun facts about Pelicans

  1. Brown Pelicans dive 30 ft. above the sea to capture prey.
  2. Brown Pelicans have excellent vision, spotting prey from 70 to 100 ft. in the air.
  3. Pelicans can fly as fast as 30 mph, but they can dive 40 mph.
  4. Pelicans in a group, are called a pod of Pelicans. Pelicans can also be called a colony of Pelicans.
  5. Pelicans have been around for a very long time. The earliest pelican fossil is found in France over 30 million years ago. When someone calls you an old bird, they might really be referring to a pelican.
  6. Pelicans’ lifespan is about 15 to 25 years.
  7. Brown Pelicans were once almost extinct and on the endangered list due to pesticides and DDT but are no longer on the endangered list.
  8. How many toes does a pelican have? Four and unlike other birds they have webbing that connects all four toes.
  9. Do you remember this Pelican limerick?

A wonderful bird is the pelican.

His beak can hold more than his belly can.

He can hold in his beak enough food for a week.

But I’ll be damned if I can see how the helican.”

This limerick is Not true, the beak (real name Gullah pouch) is not a lunchbox, it is like a fishing net and used to capture prey, and they can even drain the water, before swallowing their meal.

  1. Pelicans are not only fish eaters if it can fit down their throat it’s fair game. Yes, they eat birds, and other crustaceans as well as fish.

So back to the question that our visitors asked us, the question that started this article:

Do Pelicans go blind from diving, starve and die?

After research, I found out the answer is no, that is not a fact.

The only reason why a pelican may go blind is because of humans. Bacteria that’s found in the water, chemical pollution and other human trash that could lead to disease or a hook in the eye or injury from a human fishing.

I was relieved to find out these beautiful birds that put on a spectacular show every evening, forming a line, a “v” or a “u” while body surfing on the wind, do not go blind from their beautiful diving.

Dive on Sweet Pelicans!