Pelicans perching on poles

To: Philip Veerman <>
Subject: Pelicans perching on poles
From: Falk Wicker <>
Date: Mon, 21 Jan 2019 15:43:54 +1100
I agree with what most people have said, i.e. safe roost, easier starting point when taking off.

It is in fact so safe that a) there's only space for one bird per street light, b) access for land-living predators is incredibly hard (if not impossible) and c) the vision of the surrounding area is usually excellent. While it is not essential for an Australian Pelican to be perched up that high it is certainly something the birds feel very comfortable with it seems.

I would expect that America's Brown Pelicans use these perches for locating food or feeding flocks of seabirds as well, given they need to get up into the air to feed through plunge diving.


On Mon, Jan 21, 2019 at 10:44 AM Philip Veerman <> wrote:

Well that can be true. Taking off from a lamp post is easy and this may compensate for the effort it takes of getting up there. Pelicans are great soarers once they get high and use the warm air for lift, also great at low flight over water but there is a lot of energy involved in getting those first several metres from the ground or water up to a pole. But maybe that is not actually difficult. I still think the real advantage is that they can sit there undisturbed, just other words for exposed the pelican to dangers. Next question is: are there places where there are many pelicans and high roosts available and a lack of disturbance from people and dogs and do they regularly do this in that situation. Yes Albatross have that problem (has anyone seen an albatross perched on a pole?). Pelicans are not great at running. They can become airborne from a stationary start from the ground with a jump into the air and deep flap. Not sure what real dangers it would be subject to ……. sharks in the water, in which case, starting flying is a big benefit over not flying at all.




From: Birding-Aus [ On Behalf Of Geoff Ryan
Sent: Monday, 21 January, 2019 6:59 AM
Subject: [Birding-Aus] Pelicans perching on poles


One of the major problems of being a pelican is taking off from land or water - this requires much energy and exposes the pelican to dangers. Taking off from a lamp post is as simple as a step into free air. Pelicans, like many vultures and albatross, are like gliders and need assistance to launch. 

Geoff Ryan

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