With a wingspan around three metres, pelicans can reach altitudes up to 3,000 metres, speeds up to 56km/h and they come with airbags.
Pelicans can also fly continuously for up to 24 hours. Far from a crash safety feature, a pelican’s inbuilt airbags, provide buoyancy and improve aerodynamics. Literally, too big for their stomachs, pelicans’ mouths are capable of holding three buckets of fish or up to 13 litres of water.
You’ll find these huge birds throughout the Northern Beaches, cruising through our lagoons and quieter spots around the beaches and marinas. They glide silently over the water hunting for fish, crustaceans, yabbies, tadpoles, frogs and sometimes turtles.
Lovers of leftovers, they’ll often frequent popular fishing spots scavenging fish heads and discarded bait, and they’ll sometimes pester humans for food.
But they don’t always wait for leftovers when dealing with other birds. Pelicans aren’t above attacking smaller birds to steal their catch. Not many birds match a pelican’s size and, when food is scarce, pelicans will even drown then eat smaller birds like seagulls.
But to give them their due, pelicans have been around a very long time. Pelican fossils have been found that date back as far as 40 million years!