Overview

Distribution

Range

Locally in Africa south of the Sahara and Madagascar.

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Sub-Saharan Africa: all S of Sahara except Namibia, W South Africa.

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Source: Afrotropical birds in the RMCA

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Physical Description

Diagnostic Description

Description

Length: 135-152 cm. Plumage: greyish white with a pink tinge; fairly prominent crest; breast feather long and somewhat shaggy; primaries and secondaries brownish grey; tail grey. Immature mostly brownish but with rump back and belly white. Bare parts: iris dark brown; facial skin greyish pink; bill, pouch and orbital ring yellowish or pinkish grey with pink or orange tip; feet and legs grey, pinkish, yellow or orange. Habitat: coastal bays and estuaries and inland waters. <388><393><391>
  • Brown, L.H., E.K. Urban & K. Newman (1982). The Birds of Africa, Volume I. Academic Press, London.
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Source: World Register of Marine Species

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Behaviour This species makes little known (Ogilvie 1997) dispersive movements (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Nelson 2005) related to water conditions (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992). It is locally nomadic in southern Africa in response to changing wetland conditions (Barnes 2000), and western African populations make northward movements into sub-Saharan steppe during the wet season, returning southwards in the dry season (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Johnsgard 1993). The species breeds all year round, although most start late in the wet season (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Johnsgard 1993, Nelson 2005). It is gregarious both during breeding and non-breeding (Langrand 1990), nesting in small groups or larger loose colonies of between 20 and 500 pairs (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Ogilvie 1997) (often alongside other species (Langrand 1990, Nelson 2005)). It roosts nocturnally in groups (Johnsgard 1993), but is more of a solitary feeder, preferring to fish singly or in small loose groups of less than 30 individuals (Langrand 1990, Johnsgard 1993, Nelson 2005). It is chiefly diurnally active, especially during the morning and evening, although it may also fish on moonlit nights (Brown et al. 1982, Langrand 1990). Habitat The species inhabits a wide range of aquatic habitats, but prefers to feed in quiet backwaters and weed-grown lagoons (del Hoyo et al. 1992) where there is shallow water and emergent vegetation (Langrand 1990), generally avoiding steep, vegetated lake margins (Nelson 2005). It shows a preference for freshwater lakes, swamps, large slow-flowing rivers, and seasonal pools (Brown et al. 1982, Langrand 1990, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Johnsgard 1993, Nelson 2005), but also frequents reservoirs (Brown et al. 1982, Johnsgard 1993), seasonally flooded land (Nelson 2005) and flood-plains near river mouths (Ogilvie 1997). It may occur on alkaline and saline lakes and lagoons (Brown et al. 1982, Langrand 1990, Johnsgard 1993, Nelson 2005), and can sometimes be found along the coast in bays (del Hoyo et al. 1992) and estuaries (Brown et al. 1982, Langrand 1990, Nelson 2005) (although seldom on open seashore) (Brown et al. 1982, Nelson 2005). The species tends to roost and breed in trees (e.g. mangroves), but will also roost on sandy islands, cliffs, coral reefs and sand-dunes (del Hoyo et al. 1992). Nesting trees are often killed by repeated nesting, which forces breeding colonies to move (although birds will usually not move far) (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992). Diet The diet of this species consists entirely of fish (of any size up to 450 g, although usually in the range of 80-290 g) (Nelson 2005), with cichlids (especially Haplochromis and Tilapia) being preferred (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Johnsgard 1993, Nelson 2005). Breeding site The species nests colonially in trees, reeds or low bushes along waterfronts (Brown et al. 1982, del Hoyo et al. 1992, Nelson 2005) as well as (less often) on the ground on sandy islands and in mangroves (del Hoyo et al. 1992, Nelson 2005). The nest is small and constructed of sticks (del Hoyo et al. 1992), and may be situated at elevations of 10-50 m above the ground (Johnsgard 1993). A single tree may contain many nests (Nelson 2005) that can be very close together (often touching) (Ogilvie 1997), and a single pair will refurbish and re-use the same nest from year to year if it has not collapsed (Nelson 2005).

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
  • Marine
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Source: IUCN

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Wetlands

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Source: Afrotropical birds in the RMCA

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Dispersal

Movements and dispersal

Resident

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Source: Afrotropical birds in the RMCA

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Evolution and Systematics

Functional Adaptations

Functional adaptation

Pouch scoops and drains water: pink-backed pelican
 

The beak of the pink-backed pelican is usd to scoop and drain water during feeding via an extendable throat pouch.

     
  "The pink-backed pelican uses its distendable throat pouch as a fishing net, scooping fish and crustaceans from the water as it swims. When it opens its bill underwater, the sudden inflow of water carries the prey in with it. Then the pelican raises its head to drain out the water before swallowing the prey." (Foy and Oxford Scientific Films 1982:157)
  Learn more about this functional adaptation.
  • Foy, Sally; Oxford Scientific Films. 1982. The Grand Design: Form and Colour in Animals. Lingfield, Surrey, U.K.: BLA Publishing Limited for J.M.Dent & Sons Ltd, Aldine House, London. 238 p.
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

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

Contributor/s

Justification
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
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Status in Egypt

Regular passage visitor and winter visitor.

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Population

Population Trend
Stable
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Threats

Major Threats
This species is threatened by habitat loss in KwaZulu-Natal, as many suitable pans and flood-plains are being altered through drainage and cultivation, and the natural flooding regime of pans in the Pongolo system has been altered by the Jozini Dam (Barnes 2000). In southern Africa disturbance of the species is increasing at estuaries as these areas become more intensively used and developed (Barnes 2000). The species is also susceptible to bioaccumulation of toxins in their body tissue, which may lead to a decline in reproductive success (Barnes 2000). Destruction of nesting trees due to logging activities may be a local problem (Ogilvie 1997).
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Wikipedia

Pink-backed Pelican

The pink-backed pelican (Pelecanus rufescens) is a member of the pelican family of birds. It is a resident breeder in swamps and shallow lakes of Africa, southern Arabia, southern India and is apparently extinct in Madagascar.

Description[edit]

This is a relatively small pelican though by no means a small bird. Length is from 125 to 155 cm (49 to 61 in), wingspan is 2.15–2.9 m (7.1–9.5 ft) and body mass if from 4 to 7 kg (8.8 to 15.4 lb). The bill is 30 to 38 cm (12 to 15 in) in length.[2][3] The plumage is grey and white, with a pinkish hue on the back occasionally apparent (never in the deep pink of a flamingo). The top of the bill is yellow and the pouch is usually greyish. Breeding adults have long feather plumes on the head.

It shares habitat with the great white pelican which is generally larger and has white instead of greyish plumage.

Habitat and breeding[edit]

The pink-backed pelican is found in a range of aquatic habitats, but prefers quiet backwaters with shallow water, avoiding steep, vegetated lake banks. It prefers for freshwater lakes, swamps, large slow-flowing rivers, and seasonal pools but also frequents reservoirs, seasonally flooded land and flood-plains near river mouths. It may occur on alkaline and saline lakes and lagoons, and can sometimes be found along the coast in bays and estuaries (although seldom on open seashore). The species tends to roost and breed in trees (e.g. mangroves), but will also roost on sandy islands, cliffs, coral reefs and sand-dunes.

Nesting trees have many nests built close together, these nests are re-used every year until often the trees collapse although the birds will normally remain in the area. The species nests colonially in trees, reeds or low bushes along waterfronts as well as (less often) on the ground on sandy islands and in mangroves.

The nest is a large heap of sticks and may be 10–50 m above the ground. The female lays two to three large white eggs and later the chicks feed by plunging their heads deep into the adult’s pouch and taking the partially digested regurgitated fish.

Diet[edit]

Food is usually fish (of any size up to 450 g, usually in the 80-290 g range) and amphibians, and is usually obtained by fishing in groups. Among the fish preyed upon are cichlids like Haplochromis and Tilapia.

References[edit]

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