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Pink-backed Pelican

Afrikaans name: Kleinpelikaan

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Two Pink-backed Pelicans

Photo © Steven Herbert

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A Pink-backed Pelican bobs along the water while it keeps an eye out for fish

Photo © Steven Herbert

Pelecanus rufescens

In South Africa you can see the White and Pink-backed Pelicans. The White Pelican is much bigger and the Pink-backed Pelican is more grey rather than white. They get their name from a pinkish tinge on their backs.

Although they are smaller than the White Pelican they still have a wingspan of nearly 3 metres. They weigh around 5 or 6 kg.

The pelican's bill is designed to scoop up fish and that is their main source of food. They do also eat frogs and other amphibians. Often they will go fishing as a group and it is amazing to see them working in unison.

The Pink-backed Pelican may be found in many different types of aquatic habitats. They normally breed and roost in trees but in the absence of trees they will breed and roost on the ground.

Pelicans will nest in trees if they are available. They make the nest from sticks and will sometimes use the same nest year after year. Sometimes it gets so big and heavy that it causes the branch to break and the nest falls to the ground.

The Pink-backed Pelicans eggs are large and white. Normally 2 to 3 eggs are laid.

A Pink-backed Pelican shows off its impressive wingspan as it glides over Durban Botanic Gardens

Photo © Steven Herbert

Pink-backed Pelican

Photo © Steven Herbert

Above - A Pink-backed Pelican showing off its greyish plumage and rather large bill.

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