It’s beach season and what better way to get into the sandy swing than honoring one of the coolest beach birds around, the pelican. After all, they’re fairly unavoidable on beach trips – whether they make up the art in your family’s beach house or meet you by the water. Check out five interesting facts we found about the fine feathered friend here.
1. There are eight different species of pelicans. We’re most familiar with the brown pelican, which has five subspecies and calls North American and Caribbean coasts home. White pelicans can also be found in the U.S., and while the brown pelican dives for food, the white pelican simply scoops it up while swimming.
2. They’re as powerful as they are graceful. Pelicans are some of the heaviest flying birds, some weighing in over 30 lbs. It’s the air sacks in their bones that give them extra buoyancy. Their wingspans are also impressive, many spanning up to 10 feet, enabling them to soar up to heights of 10,000 above our beach blankets. Body wise, the pelican also boasts the throat pouch, which they use to catch fish, as well as, rainwater for drinking.
3. With their cool looks, it’s no surprise that the pelican is a social bird. They love being around others (you know, throwing beach parties).
4. Pelican fossils date back almost 40 million years, so it’s also no surprise that the bird has quite a bit of symbolism attached to its name. In Ancient Egypt, the pelican was associated with death and the afterlife. Often drawn on the walls of tombs, the bird served as a protective symbol against snakes.
5. The pelican has its own limerick. Yes, in 1910, Dixon Lanier Merritt wrote:
“A wonderful bird is the pelican, His bill will hold more than his belican, He can take in his beak Food enough for a week, But I'm damned if I see how the helican.”