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Overview

Brief Summary

Biology

Spot-billed pelicans nest in colonies, usually in old trees; returning to the same trees and the same position each year. The breeding season is dependent on the rains, but on the Indian subcontinent pairs begin to construct their nests in September (4). The clutch of around two to three eggs is laid from October to November and the chicks fledge around three months after laying (4). Enormous colonies have been recorded in the past, when hundreds of birds nested in the same area of the forest, with up to 15 nests per tree (4). Little is known about the feeding ecology of these pelicans; individuals appear to mainly hunt for fish prey on a solitary basis (4).
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Description

The spot-billed pelican is relatively small with the typically large bill that characterises this family of waterbirds. These birds have large, expandable throat pouches which are used to scoop up fish from the surface of the water (3). As their common name suggests, these pelicans possess a spotted bill; the throat pouch is also spotted in appearance (2). The plumage is dusky grey and the crown is tufted at the back of the head (2).
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Distribution

Range Description

Pelecanus philippensis was formerly common across much of Asia, but suffered a widespread decline (BirdLife International 2001). However, owing to protection and increased knowledge its estimated population has been revised upwards from a low of 5,500-10,000 birds in 2002 to an estimated 13,000-18,000 individuals in 2006. Known breeding populations are now confined to India, Sri Lanka and Cambodia. The Indian population is thought to exceed 5,000 birds in the south owing to increases resulting from improved protection of the species (S. Subramanya in litt. 2006), plus c.3,000 in Assam (Choudhury 2000). In southern India there are 21 known breeding colonies in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu (Subramanya 2006). One of these at Kokkare Bellur, Karnataka, has doubled in size in recent years (Subramanya 2006). However, another at Uppalapadu has declined from a historical high of 12,000 individuals, with only 1,500 observed in a recent count. The site is threatened by human encroachment (M. Akhtar in litt. 2008). In Sri Lanka, c.5,000 birds were thought to breed, possibly overlapping with the southern Indian populations (S. W. Kotagama in litt. 2001). However, recent evidence from Sri Lanka suggests a breeding population of fewer than 1,000 pairs, with counts from the three known colonies totalling just 400 pairs (C. Kaluthota in litt. 2006). In South-East Asia, an estimated 1,000-1,500 breeding pairs (T. Clements in litt. 2007) occur at Prek Toal on the Tonle Sap lake. This population is thought to be increasing following protection of breeding birds at the site beginning in 2002 (T. Clements in litt. 2007). It probably breeds in small numbers on Sumatra, Indonesia, but probably no longer in Myanmar (G. Chunkino in litt. 2006, Weerakoon and Athukorala 2007). There are recent records of migrants in Nepal, Laos and Vietnam, but it no longer occurs in the Philippines and China. Numbers recorded in Thailand have increased in recent years (P. Round in litt. 2006). This is thought to be as a result of improved protection of the nesting colonies in Cambodia. A juvenile, presumably a vagrant, individual has recently been recorded on Amami-Oshima Island, Japan (Hisahiro et al. 2010).

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Range

Lowlands of India to SE Asia and Philippines.

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Geographic Range

Pelecanus philippensis, also known as spot-billed pelicans, can only be found in Southeast Asia over a range of territory between 129,000 and 181,000 square kilometers. The largest remaining populations are in India, Sri Lanka, southern Cambodia, and Sumatra along coastal areas. Pelecanus philippensis has also historically been sighted in Java, Pakistan, Nepal, Turkey, Laos, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Breeding, however, is currently confined to Sri Lanka, parts of southeastern India, and Cambodia.

Biogeographic Regions: oriental (Native )

  • Stattersfield, A., D. Capper. 2000. Threatened Birds of the World. Birdlife International: Cambridge, UK.
  • Johnsgard, P. 1993. Cormorants, Darters, and Pelicans of the World. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution.
  • Hutchins, M., J. Jackson, W. Bock, D. Clendorf. 2003. Grzimek’s Animal Life Encyclopedia, 2nd ed.. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group.
  • BirdLife International, 2004. "2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: Pelecanus philippensis" (On-line). Accessed November 15, 2005 at www.redlist.org.
  • Birdlife International, 2005. "BirdLife International Species factsheet: Pelecanus philippensis" (On-line). Accessed November 15, 2005 at www.birdlife.org.
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Range

Previously common and widespread in Asia, the spot-billed pelican was known from Pakistan to Vietnam (4). Over the 20th century however, this species has suffered a dramatic decline and breeding populations are today confined to India, Sri Lanka and Cambodia (4).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Spot-billed pelicans are relatively small pelicans. Mature pre-breeding spot-billed pelicans are generally gray dorsally, blending to white ventrally with a fairly long brownish gray crest. The eye-ring and most facial skin is an orange-yellow color, though the skin in front of each eye is bright purple. The wings are grey with dark brown to black tips and dull white to slightly pink undersides. The bill is a pinkish to orange-yellow color with large bluish black spots or smears on the sides and a dull purple pouch that is also blotched with bluish black. Pelicans in general are easily identified in the field by their unique bill pouch, which can stretch while fishing to hold almost three gallons of water in the larger pelican species. Spot-billed pelicans also have fully-webbed feet and legs of very dark brown to black skin. After breeding season ends, mature spot-billed pelicans lose some of the brilliance in their facial coloring, becoming more dull. The crest also diminishes in size. When newly hatched, spot-billed pelican nestling are initially naked with light skin, quickly growing a white down layer. As juveniles they develop a brown color. Bill-spots begin to develop at approximately six months but are still indistinct until the molt into adult plumage begins in their third year. At this point, approximately 30 months of age, the identifying facial and bill marks become well defined. The change from brown juvenile to grey and white adult plumage is usually complete by autumn of the third year, just in time for the breeding season. Male spot-billed pelicans are slightly larger than females. The basal metabolic rate has not been investigated.

Range mass: 4100 to 5700 g.

Range length: 2.85 to 3.55 m.

Range wingspan: 5.25 to 6.07 m.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: male larger; ornamentation

  • Hoagstrom, C. 2002. Magill’s Encyclopedia of Science Animal Life. Pasadena, CA: Salem Press, Inc..
  • Del Hoyo, J., A. Elliott, J. Sargaral. 1992. Handbook of the Birds of the World VI: Ostrich to Ducks. Barcelona, Spain: Lynx Edicions.
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Ecology

Habitat

Pelecanus philippensis lives in lowland freshwater, brackish, and marine wetland areas of Southeast Asia, mainly near open water. Spot-billed pelicans hunt for food in both freshwater and marine environments, sometimes diving slightly below the surface but never to any great depth. During the breeding season these pelicans require large trees for nesting with a preference for bare or dead trees.

Habitat Regions: tropical ; terrestrial ; saltwater or marine ; freshwater

Aquatic Biomes: lakes and ponds; coastal ; brackish water

Wetlands: swamp

Other Habitat Features: estuarine

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Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
It inhabits a variety of deep and shallow wetlands, both man-made and natural, freshwater and saline, open and forested. It breeds colonially in tall trees or palms and feeds in open water, primarily on fish. Some populations appear to be sedentary.


Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
  • Marine
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These birds inhabit a variety of wetlands, from freshwater to saline, in open or forested areas (2).
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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

Spot-billed pelicans are carnivorous and eat a diet of mainly fish, but which is sometimes supplemented by small reptiles, amphibians, and aquatic crustaceans. Spot-billed pelicans have an estimated requirement of 1000g of food daily. Pelicans use their unique beaks to fish, diving from above to skim the water or simply dipping their heads and necks below the water, collecting fish using their large, expandable bill-pouches. They then hold the fish in their pouches just long enough to squeeze out the water from the corners of their mouthes before swallowing their meals.

Animal Foods: amphibians; reptiles; fish; aquatic crustaceans

Primary Diet: carnivore (Piscivore )

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Associations

Ecosystem Roles

Spot-billed pelicans are predators of small to medium-sized fish, amphibians, and reptiles. Young pelicans may also be prey to crows, Brahminy kites, and jackals. There are no known mutualisms or commensalisms involving this species.

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Predation

Mature spot-billed pelicans have no predators, however crows, Brahminy kites, and jackals will quickly eat nestlings and fledglings and steal eggs, if they have the opportunity.

Known Predators:

  • Brahminy kites Haliastus indus 
  • crows (Corvus)
  • jackals (Canis aureus)

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Communication and Perception

Spot-billed pelicans are relatively quiet when mature, only calling rarely. As nestlings, however, they have been recorded uttering grunting contact calls, barking, squeaking, and bleating like sheep, making the breeding grounds a much noisier place. In the presence of a perceived threat, however, both young and adults will become silent. Loud noises and large wing movements may be used as scare tactics once a threat makes itself visable. During mating these pelicans use a number of different social signals, both vocal and visual, including bowing, head swaying, bill clapping, head turning, and various moaning, grunting, and high-pitched yipping noises. Mates also greet each other with neck stretching and a duet of groans. Other aspects of communication in spot-billed pelicans have not been studied.

Communication Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic

Other Communication Modes: duets

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Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Little reseach has been done on the lifespan of P. philippensis. Pelecanus occidentalis, the brown pelican, has been recorded to live up to 31 years in the wild and 29 in captivity. Pelecanus erythrorhynchos, the white pelican, has been recorded to live up to 34 years in captivity.

  • Terres, J. 1980. The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds. New York: Alfred. A. Knopf, Inc..
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Reproduction

Spot-billed pelicans breed seasonally, each nesting pair fledging one clutch per year. Pairs are monogamous by year but not for life. At the beginning of each new breeding season courtship rituals begin anew. Pairing occurs approximately one week after pelicans arrive at their breeding grounds. Spot-billed pelicans use a number of different social signals in courtship, both vocal and visual, including bowing, head swaying, bill clapping, head turning, and various moaning, grunting, and high-pitched yipping noises. The pair, once formed, will begin to build their nest. The male brings sticks to the female, who builds the nest underneath her, anywhere from 5 to 30 meters above ground in the branches of a tree. Up to 15 pairs have been documented with nests in the same tree in a season. These nests, once completed, will be defended with hissing, sighing, and bill-jabbing movements if another bird lands too close. Mates greet each other at the nest with neck stretching and a series of groans.

Mating System: monogamous

Spot-billed pelicans breed once per year during an autumn breeding season. They lay 3 eggs at intervals of 36-48 hours. The eggs are then incubated for an average of 30 days. If all the eggs in a nest are removed or destroyed at the beginning of the season, then a second clutch is laid within a week of their loss. However, if at least one egg remains there will be no replacement clutch. Breeding success is high in this species, with an average of two fledged young per nesting pair. Nestlings, though born helpless, are only fed by their parents for their first few weeks of life. Developing quickly, they are left to fend for themselves within the colony after just a few weeks, scavenging for food within the breeding grounds. Fledging occurs between 60 and 90 days, with the young able to actually hunt on their own at approximately 12 weeks. Spot-billed pelicans reach sexual maturity after 30 months or during their third year.

Breeding interval: Spot-billed pelicans breed once per year.

Breeding season: In Sri Lanka, the breading season extends from December to March or April, but in India the season starts two months earlier, in October.

Average eggs per season: 3.

Average time to hatching: 30 days.

Range fledging age: 60 to 90 days.

Average time to independence: 12 weeks.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 30 months.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 30 months.

Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)

The majority of parental investment is in caring for the eggs rather than nestlings. Eggs are well tended by adults against egg predators, who rarely are able to steal eggs unless there is some sort of human disturbance to the nesting area. Although both the male and female take turns incubating their clutch, the female, who seems reluctant to leave the eggs even when pushed off by her mate, does the majority of incubation. After hatching, the young are fluid-fed by both parents for the first week and protected in the nest for the first two to three weeks until they develop the skills to defend themselves. After two to three weeks there is little parental involvement; the nestlings gather at the base of their nesting trees and scavenge for food scraps until fledging. They continue to live within the colony, which offers them some safety from predators and the food scraps they need to survive. Little direct parenting is provided once the nestlings leave the nest.

Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female)

  • Hoagstrom, C. 2002. Magill’s Encyclopedia of Science Animal Life. Pasadena, CA: Salem Press, Inc..
  • Johnsgard, P. 1993. Cormorants, Darters, and Pelicans of the World. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution.
  • Hutchins, M., J. Jackson, W. Bock, D. Clendorf. 2003. Grzimek’s Animal Life Encyclopedia, 2nd ed.. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale Group.
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
NT
Near Threatened

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s
Chan, S., Chunkino, G., Clements, T., Kaluthota, C., Kotagama, S., Li, Z., Mahood, S., Round, P. & Subramanya, S.

Justification
This species has declined at a moderately rapid rate owing to a number of threats. For this reason the species is classified as Near Threatened.

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Spot-billed pelicans are classified by IUCN as a vulnerable species, with an estimated 7,500 – 10,000 individuals currently in existence. Several key breeding grounds are now in protected areas, particularly the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve in Cambodia. Others, such as the Sittang Valley breeding colony in Myanmar, have already been destroyed. Spot-billed pelicans suffer mainly from habitat loss due to deforestation, hunting, and pollution by organochlorine pesticides. Deforestation is particularly damaging because it affects their breeding grounds. Aquaculture and over-fishing by humans have also disturbed vital pelican habitats. Legislation, community action, research, habitat preservation, and habitat restoration are needed to help increase the long-term viability of spot-billed pelican populations.

US Migratory Bird Act: no special status

CITES: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: near threatened

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Status

Classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List 2007 (1).
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Population

Population
S. Subramanya (in litt. 2006) has suggested that the population in South India now exceeds 5,000 birds owing to increases resulting from improved protection of the species. This would imply a total population of perhaps 7,000-10,000 individuals in South Asia, and 13,000-18,000 individuals globally, roughly equivalent to 8,700-12,000 mature individuals,

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
A crucial factor in its decline was the loss of the Sittang valley breeding colony in Myanmar through deforestation and loss of feeding-sites. Key threats are a combination of human disturbance at breeding colonies and wetlands, extensive felling of nesting trees, the impact of invasive plants on the species's wetland habitat, hunting and poaching of eggs and chicks. Additional threats include the loss of important feeding-sites through siltation, agricultural intensification, aquaculture development, building of power stations, drainage and conversion of wetlands, declines in wetland productivity as a result of pesticide use, and over-exploitation of fisheries (Chandrasekhar 2009). There is some persecution resulting from competition between the birds and fishers. A potential but as yet unqualified threat is posed by avian influenza (P. Round in litt. 2006).

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The loss of the spot-billed pelican from much of its former range has been attributed to habitat destruction. Wetlands are notoriously fragile, threatened ecosystems and in addition, these birds require forest habitat for breeding which is also threatened by logging practices and the conversion of the land to agriculture and development (4). The disturbance of breeding colonies due to the destruction of habitat can have particularly devastating consequences (4).
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Conservation Actions Underway
In India, several key breeding colonies are in protected areas and some local communities have pelican conservation initiatives. In Cambodia, the breeding colonies at Prek Toal and Moat Khla/Boeng Chhma are core areas of Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve. Conservation actions to reduce chick and egg collection and other forms of disturbance to the breeding colony at Prek Toal have been in place since the late 1990s. Eight out of 15 nesting sites in Tamil Nadu are protected. An awareness programme has been initiated in Sri Lanka as part of a project funded by the Conservation Leadership Programme. This has also set up research stations concerned with improving knowledge of the species (Weerakoon and Athukorala 2007).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Identify and survey colonies in Cambodia and any remaining in Myanmar. Afford strict protection to important nesting colonies and key feeding-sites. Promote strict control of pesticide use in important feeding areas. Continue and strengthen on-going conservation actions at the Prek Toal colony, Tonle Sap lake. Draft and enforce new legislation pertaining to large waterbird colony conservation around Tonle Sap lake. Expand conservation awareness programmes at key sites. Monitor the population for signs of avian influenza.

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Conservation

The spot-billed pelican is protected by law in India, Sri Lanka, China, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos (4). A number of the key breeding sites are also protected; particularly in India and the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve in Cambodia, which encompasses the important Prek Toal and Moat Khla/Boeng Chhma breeding sites (2). A community-based project has sprung up around the breeding site at Kokkare Bellur in India. The Mysore Amateur Naturalists (MAN) was established in order to protect the pelicans that breed in the area and concentrates on the involvement and education of local communities, who historically have close ties with these birds (5).
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of P. philippensis on humans.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Pelicans have been historically used as domestic birds in Egypt and as fishing helpers in India. Relatively slow and direct in flight, pelicans make easy birds to track, leading fishermen to fish-rich areas. Unlike many other birds, pelicans eat a number of fish that are not considered commercially valuable such as carp and silversides, and do not typically compete with commercial fishermen. As a vulnerable species, P. philippensis may also increase ecotourism to Southeast Asia. They are occasionally consumed in Cambodia and possibly other countries as well.

Positive Impacts: food ; ecotourism

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Wikipedia

Spot-billed Pelican

The Spot-billed Pelican or Grey Pelican (Pelecanus philippensis) is a member of the pelican family. It breeds in southern Asia from southern Pakistan across India east to Indonesia. It is a bird of large inland and coastal waters, especially large lakes. At a distance they are difficult to differentiate from other pelicans in the region although it is smaller but at close range the spots on the upper mandible, the lack of bright colours and the greyer plumage are distinctive. In some areas these birds nest in large colonies close to human habitations.

Description[edit]

Adult and immatures at nest

The Spot-billed Pelican is a relatively small pelican but still a large bird. It is 125–152 cm (49–60 in) long and a weight of 4.1–6 kg (9-13.2 lbs). It is mainly white, with a grey crest, hindneck and a brownish tail. The feathers on the hind neck are curly and form a greyish nape crest. The pouch is pink to purplish and has large pale spots, and is also spotted on the sides of the upper mandible. The tip of the bill (or nail) is yellow to orange. In breeding plumage, the skin at the base of the beak is dark and the orbital patch is pink. In flight they look not unlike the Dalmatian Pelican but the tertials and inner secondaries are darker and a pale band runs along the greater coverts. The tail is rounder.[2]

The underwing of a spot-billed pelican flying.

The newly hatched young are covered in white down. They then moult into a greyish speckled plumage. The spots on the bill appear only after a year. The full adult breeding plumage appears in their third year.[3]

Habitat, distribution and status[edit]

The species is found to breed only in peninsular India, Sri Lanka and in Cambodia. A few birds from India are known to winter in the Gangetic plains but reports of its presence in many other parts of the region such as the Maldives, Pakistan and Bangladesh has been questioned.[2] The main habitat is in shallow lowland freshwaters. The Spot-billed Pelican is not migratory but are known to make local movements and are more widely distributed in the non-breeding season.

Nesting along with Painted Storks

This species is a colonial breeder, often breeding in the company of other waterbirds. The nests are on low trees near wetlands and sometimes near human habitations. Many large breeding colonies have been recorded and several have disappeared over time. In June 1906, C E Rhenius visited a colony in Kundakulam in Tirunelveli district where the villages considered the birds semi-sacred.[4] The same colony was revisited in 1944, and was found to have about 10 nests of pelicans and nearly 200 nests of Painted Stork.[5]

The Sittang River in Burma was said by E W Oates to have "millions" of pelicans in 1877 and in 1929 E C Stuart Baker reported that they were still nesting in thousands along with Greater Adjutant Storks:

The whole forest consisted of very large trees, but a portion, about one in twenty, was made up of wood-oil trees, gigantic fellows, 150 feet high and more, and with a smooth branchless trunk of 80 to 100 feet. These are the trees selected by the Pelicans.
I was out that day till 3 p.m., continually moving, and must have walked at least twenty miles in various directions, but never from first to last was 1 out of sight of either a Pelican's or Adjutant's nest. From what I saw, and from what the Burmans told me, I compute the breeding-place of these birds to extend over an area about twenty miles long and five broad.

—Oates (1877) quoted in Hume (1890)[6]
Flocks fly in formation

This colony was however reported by B E Smythies to have disappeared between the 1930s and the 1940s.[7]

Another colony was discovered in 1902 at a village called Buchupalle in the Cudappah district, where these pelicans nested along with Painted Storks during the month of March.[8] This colony was never traced again.[7] The Kolleru Lake colony was discovered by K K Neelakantan in 1946. Nearly 3000 pelicans nested in this colony at the time of discovery.[7][9] This colony however disappeared around 1975.[10][11][12]

Due to habitat loss and human disturbance, the Spot-billed Pelican's numbers have declined and many populations in Southeast Asia are now extinct.[13] The specific name refers to the Philippines, where the species was abundant in the early 1900s[3] but declined and become locally extinct in the 1960s.[14] The populations in southern India are thought to be on the rise.[15] Estimates suggest that increased protection has since enabled a recovery in their numbers and the status of the species was changed from Vulnerable to Near Threatened in the 2007 IUCN Red List.[1]

Kelambakkam Backwaters is one of the most important bird watching spots in Chennai. Lot of bird variety are found here throughout the year. Captured this Spot Billed Pelican while it was just about to land in water after flight.

Behaviour and ecology[edit]

Nesting on an artificial platform at Uppalapadu, Andhra Pradesh

They are very silent although at their nests they can make hisses, grunts or snap their bills.[2] Some early descriptions of nesting colonies have claimed them to be distinctive in their silence but most have noted colonies as noisy.[7][16]

Like most other pelicans, it catches fish in its huge bill pouch while swimming at the surface. Unlike the Great White Pelican it does not form large feeding flocks and is usually found to fish singly or in small flocks. Groups may however sometimes line up and drive fish towards the shallows. When flying to their roosts or feeding areas, small groups fly in formation with steady flapping. During the hot part of the day, they often soar on thermals.[17] They may forage at night to some extent.[18]

Spot billed pelican feeding at Vedanthangal, Tamil Nadu
A spot-billed pelican carrying nest building material. The vegetation in the background - Barringtonia , is the preferred habitat for nesting.

The birds nest in colonies and the nest is a thick platform of twigs placed on a low tree. The breeding season varies from October to May.[2] In Tamil Nadu, the breeding season follows the onset of the Northeast Monsoon. The courtship display of the males involves a distention of the pouch with swinging motions of the head up and down followed by sideways swings followed by the head being held back over the back. Bill claps may also be produced during the head swaying movements.[19][20] The nests are usually built alongside other colonial waterbirds, particularly Painted Storks. Three to four chalky white eggs is the usual clutch. The eggs become dirty with age.[17] Eggs hatch in about 30–33 days. The young stay in or near the nest from three to five months.[19][21] In captivity the young are able to breed after two years.[22] Like other pelicans, they cool themselves using gular fluttering and panting.[23]

In culture[edit]

At a colony (Uppalapadu)

This species was once used by fishermen in parts of eastern Bengal as decoys for certain fish. These fishermen believed that an oily secretion from the bird attracted certain fish such as Colisa and Anabas.[24]

The propensity of these birds to nest close to human habitations has been noted from the time of T C Jerdon:

I have visited on Pelicanry in the Carnatic, where the Pelicans have (for ages I was told) built their rude nests, on rather low trees in the midst of a village, and seemed to care little for the close and constant proximity of human beings.

—Jerdon, 1864[24]

Several colonies have since been discovered and while many of these have vanished others have been protected and a few villages with nesting colonies have become popular tourist attractions. Well known villages with colonies include Kokrebellur, Koothankulam and Uppalapadu.[11][25]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2012). "Pelecanus philippensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d Rasmussen, PC & JC Anderton (2005). Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide. Volume 2. Smithsonian Institution & Lynx Edicions. p. 49. 
  3. ^ a b McGregor, R C (1909). A manual of Philippine birds. Part 1. Bureau of Printing, Manila. pp. 208–210. 
  4. ^ Rhenius, CE (1907). "Pelicans breeding in India". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 17 (3): 806–807. 
  5. ^ Webb-Peploe, CG (1945). "Notes on a few birds from the South of the Tinnevelly District". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 45 (3): 425–426. 
  6. ^ Hume, AO (1890). The nests and eggs of Indian birds. Volume 3. R H Porter. p. 297. 
  7. ^ a b c d Gee,EP (1960). "The breeding of the Grey or Spottedbilled Pelican Pelecanus philippensis (Gmelin)". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 57 (2): 245–251. 
  8. ^ Campbell,WH (1902). "Nesting of the Grey Pelican Pelecanus philippensis in the Cuddapah District, Madras Presidency". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. (2): 401. 
  9. ^ Neelakantan,KK (1949). "A South Indian pelicanry". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 48 (4): 656–666. 
  10. ^ Guttikar, S. N. (1978). "Lost pelicanry". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 75: 482–484. 
  11. ^ a b Kannan V & R Manakadan (2005). "The status and distribution of Spot-billed Pelican Pelecanus philippensis in southern India" (PDF). Forktail 21: 9–14. 
  12. ^ Nagulu, V & Ramana Rao, JV (1983). "Survey of south Indian pelicanries". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 80 (1): 141–143. 
  13. ^ Crivelli, A; Schreiber, R (1984). "Status of the Pelecanidae". Biological Conservation 30 (2): 147. doi:10.1016/0006-3207(84)90063-6. 
  14. ^ Van Weerd, Merlijn & J van der Ploeg (2004). "Surveys of wetlands and waterbirds in Cagayan valley, Luzon, Philippines" (PDF). Forktail 20: 33–39. 
  15. ^ Gokula, V (2011). "Status and distribution of population and potential and potential breeding and foraging sites of spot-billed pelican in Tamil Nadu, India". J. Sci. Trans. Environ. Technov 5 (2): 59–69. 
  16. ^ Whistler, Hugh (1949). Popular handbook of Indian birds. Edition 4. Gurney and Jackson. pp. 489–491. 
  17. ^ a b Ali, Salim (1996). The Book of Indian Birds. Edition 12. BNHS & Oxford University Press. p. 66. 
  18. ^ Gokula, V. (2011). "Nocturnal foraging by Spot-billed Pelican in Tamil Nadu, India". Marine Ornithology 39: 267–268. 
  19. ^ a b Gokula, V (2011). "Breeding biology of the Spot-billed Pelican (Pelecanus philippensis) in Karaivetti Bird Sanctuary, Tamil Nadu, India". Chinese Birds 2 (2): 101–108. doi:10.5122/cbirds.2011.0013. 
  20. ^ Gokula V (2011). "An ethogram of Spot-billed Pelican (Pelecanus philippensis)". Chinese Birds 2 (4): 183–192. doi:10.5122/cbirds.2011.0030. 
  21. ^ Ali, S & S D Ripley (1978). Handbook of the birds of India and Pakistan 2 (2 ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 29–30. 
  22. ^ Das, RK (1991). "Assam: the main breeding ground of Spotbilled Pelican". Newsletter for Birdwatchers 31 (11&12): 12–13. 
  23. ^ Bartholomew, GA; Robert C. Lasiewski and Eugene C. Crawford, Jr. (1968). "Patterns of Panting and Gular Flutter in Cormorants, Pelicans, Owls, and Doves". The Condor 70 (1): 31–34. doi:10.2307/1366506. JSTOR 1366506. 
  24. ^ a b Jerdon, TC (1864). The Birds of India. Volume 3. George Wyman & Co. pp. 858–860. 
  25. ^ Neginhal, S. G. (1977). "Discovery of a pelicanry in Karnataka". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 74: 169–170. 
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Kokrebellur

Kokrebellur
Kokkare Bellur
—  Village  —
Kokrebellur is located in Karnataka
Kokrebellur
Location in Karnataka, India
Coordinates: 12°30′40″N 77°05′28″E / 12.511°N 77.091°E / 12.511; 77.091Coordinates: 12°30′40″N 77°05′28″E / 12.511°N 77.091°E / 12.511; 77.091
Country India
StateKarnataka
DistrictMandya
Time zoneIST (UTC+5:30)
Painted Stork and Spot-billed Pelican classified as “near threatened” under IUCN3.1 BirdLife International (2008). Mycteria leucocephala. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on {{{downloaded}}}.

Kokkarebellur, usually shortened by the colloquial usage to Kokrebellur, is a village in Maddur taluk of Mandya district of Karnataka, India. The village is named after the Painted Stork(Ibis leucocephalus) called “Kokkare” in Kannada language. It is situated near Maddur between the cities of Mysore and Bangalore. Apart from Painted Storks the Spotbilled Pelicans, are also found here. Both are classified as “near threatened category” in IUCN Red List of 2009. The village is one of the 21 breeding sites existing in India.[1][2][3]

The uniqueness in Kokkarebellur is the long established bonding between the Spot-billed Pelicans and the villagers who have adopted this bird as their heritage, since they consider the birds as harbingers of good luck and prosperity to the village. The benefits derived by the villagers from these birds are basically in the form of phosphorus and potassium rich manure obtained from the bird droppings called ‘guano’. Further, over the years, the popularity of this uniqueness has also attracted tourists to the village to watch the birds.[1][2]

Contents

Etymology

The name of the village “Kokkarebellur” (Kannada - ಕೊಕ್ಕರೆಬೆಳ್ಳೂರು) is derived from two words: ‘Kokkare’ meaning “stork” or “Pelican” and ‘Bellur’ meaning” white village

Geography

The village is located 800 metres (2,600 ft) to the west of the Shimsa River. The area in the vicinity of the village offers large water bodies in the form of several large tanks such as the Tailur Kere (‘Kere’ means “tank”), the Maddur Kere and the Sole Kere that sustain food needs (particularly, fishes and shell fishes) of the pelicans and other birds. The village setting at Kokkarebellur has nesting trees in the form of Ficus (F religiosa, F bengalensis) and Tamarind (Tamarindus indica) trees. The Mandya district, where the village is located, has extensive agricultural fields with sugarcane as a major crop. During the season of migration of birds, large colonies of Spot-billed Pelicans and Painted Storks are seen nesting, mostly in tamarind trees.[1][2]

History

History of Pelicans here was probably mentioned by T C Jerdon in 1853, which was further expanded by the pioneering efforts of the senior forest official S G Neginhal of the Indian Forest Service. In 1976, Neginhal established viable solutions by introducing a compensatory scheme to benefit the villagers for furthering the cause of proliferation of this breed of pelicans. The birds and the villagers have coexisted now in total harmony for several decades. The Karnataka Forest Department compensates the villagers with a fixed sum of money for each tree that is used for nestling by birds, since benefits from the crops (tamarind) from these trees and from the land below the tree are lost.[1]

Fauna

Apart from the Pelicans, the other birds found nestling and breeding in the village trees are the Painted Stork (Ibis leucocephalus), Little Cormorant (Phalacrocorax niger), Black Ibis (Pseudibis papillosa), Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea), Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax) and Indian Pond Heron (Ardeola grayii).[2]

The two colonial or migratory birds with propinquity to nestle close to each other are seen nestling in clusters of 15 to 20 pairs per tree and are stated to come back to the same trees, year after year. In the Indian subcontinent, they arrive after monsoon rains ends in September when the birds create their nests, lay eggs from October to November, thereafter fledge around for three months after laying of eggs, till March and tirelessly feed their hatchlings through the summer season. As summer peaks in May, they re-migrate, year after year, except when they sense drought conditions in their colonial habitat. Village women turning sentimental about the birds returning to their homeland say:[4]

For us, these birds are like a daughter coming home for delivery....

The two migratory birds as seen in Kokkarebellur – the Spot-billed Pelican (Pelecanus phillipensis) and Painted Stork (Ibis leucocephalus) - are in the conservation status of “near threatened category” as per IUCN 3.1 categorization of 2008 (taxboxes here are taken from the interlinked articles give the scientific details of both). This assessment is based on their rapid declining rate due to many threats.[3] It is also reported that its population is confined to India, Sri Lanka and Cambodia.[6]

The birds have distinctly different large anatomical dimensions and colours but both are very active in feeding and protecting their hatchlings. While the painted stork is large in size, the pelican is half this size. Storks have snow-white plumage, lay 2-5 white dotted eggs and have a yellow tapering bill. The pelicans have grey and grayish white plumage, short stout legs, large webbed feet, flat and enormous bill with an elastic bag of purple skin hanging below the throat (that facilitates to collect fish from water surfaces), with length or height in the range of 127–140 centimetres (50–55 in) with tufted crown at the back of the head and lay a maximum of three chalk white eggs at a time.[3][4][6]

Ring necked Parkeets seen in Kokkrebellur

In addition to above birds, there are nearly 250 birds[7] recorded around this area over years.

Conservation efforts

The spot-billed pelicans are protected by law in India and also in several other countries of the region (Sri Lanka, China, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos) to avert threats in the form of tree felling for agricultural purposes. A community-based project has been established to perpetuate historical links of the pelicans with the villagers.[3][6]

Kokkrebellur is not a reserved forest sanctuary but is a small village where the storks and pelicans coexist freely, mostly in tamarind trees in the middle of the village, in total harmony with the villagers. Consequently, reports indicate increased nestling activity in recent years. Thus, efforts to conserve these birds have been fruitful and hailed as a “role model” for replication at other places.[4][8]

The Karnataka Forest Department (KFD), the Mandya Zilla Panchayath, the Department of Minor Irrigation and Department of Fisheries and the Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation (KSTDC) have supported the Local Village Level Committee and NGO organizations to conserve and develop all facilities for the birds. The list of planned activities involved cover the following:[1]

  • Establish and provide grants to the Village Forest Committee (VFC) to protect the birds by nurturing and enhancing the trees (Ficus (F religiosa, F bengalensis) and Tamarind (Tamarindus indica) trees) where the birds nest, collect manure generated by the ‘guano’ or bird droppings of the nestling birds for use by villagers
  • Encourage tourism to the village for bird watching and thus assist villagers by way of employment as guides, charging of parking fee for vehicles, camera fee, paid toilet, opportunity for running a restaurant or other tourist facilities
  • Provide incentives to the villagers to compensate for the loss of crops (particularly, from the Tamarind trees)
  • Maintain hygienic environment in the village through establishing adequate water supply and drainage system
  • Create food sources for the birds in the tanks (reservoirs) in the vicinity of the village by introducing indigenous fish species (banning commercial carp culture), discourage fishing activities and also de-silt the tanks to maintain water in adequate quantity and quality

‘Hejjarle Balaga’ (meaning “relatives of Pelican”) of the Mysore Amateur Naturalists (MAN), an NGO, works in unison with the villagers in providing protection to these birds. The villagers with support from volunteers of the NGOs tend to the injured hatchlings/fledglings that fall from the trees by housing them in exclusively built pens, nurse and feed them with fish caught from nearby water bodies.[2][4]

Its population in southern India, at 21 locations in the states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, is reported to be about 5,000 birds (2006) (its total population in an area of 181,000 square kilometres (70,000 sq mi) in various countries of Asia is reported in the range of 13,000 - 18,000). Kokrebellur, in particular, has the distinction of increasing its Spot-billed Pelican population by more than double in recent years.[3]

Access

It is well connected by road, rail and air transport networks. It is at a distance of 83 kilometres (52 mi) from Bangalore on the Bangalore-Mysore highway. The branch road to the village is 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) from the highway at the ‘Coffee day’ landmark, close to Maddur. It is 20 kilometres (12 mi) to the north-east of Mandya. Maddur and Mandya are the closest railway stations on the Mysore-Bangalore broad gauge link. The nearest airport, with daily services to most cities of the country and to some International destinations, is at Bangalore.[1][9]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f "Karnataka State of Environment Report and Action Plan Biodiversity Sector" (pdf). Kokkrebennur. Bangalore: Environmental Information System (ENVIS), Centre for Ecological Sciences, Indian Institute of Science. 2004. pp. 120. http://ces.iisc.ernet.in/hpg/envis/sdev/CES_ETR/etr16.pdf. Retrieved 2009-09-30.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Kokrebellur-the Haven for Spot-billed Pelicans" (pdf). http://www.asima.org.in/pdf/Kokrebellur-the%20Haven%20for%20Spot-billed%20Pelicans.pdf. Retrieved 2009—09-30.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Spot-billed Pelican - BirdLife Species Factsheet". Bird Life International. http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/search/species_search.html?act. Retrieved 2009-09-30.
  4. ^ a b c d "A little village shows how to make birds part of your lives". http://www.ecobcil.com/?q=content/they-bond-birds. Retrieved 2009-09-30.
  5. ^ BirdLife International (2008). Mycteria leucocephala. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded on {{{downloaded}}}. Database entry includes a brief justification of why this species is near threatened
  6. ^ a b c "Spot-billed pelican (Pelecanus philippensis)". ARKIVE Images of Life on Earth. http://www.arkive.org/spot-billed-pelican/pelecanus-philippensis/info.html. Retrieved 2009-09-30.
  7. ^ http://www.mysorenature.org/mandya-sector/kokkare-bellur/environ
  8. ^ "Birds on the wing". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 2007-12-24. http://www.hindu.com/mp/2007/12/24/stories/2007122450770400.htm. Retrieved 2009-10-02.
  9. ^ "Kokarebellur". http://www.karnataka.com/tourism/mysore/kokrebellur.html. Retrieved 2009-10-02.
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