Interesting facts about pelicans

Pelicans are pretty nifty creatures dontcha know?! In fact, they are some of the coolest birds on the planet, and we could definitely stand to learn more about them. Their bodies are pretty amazing and definitely unique, and their behavior is fascinating as well. When pelicans hunt, they have a spectacular habitat as well, and they are some of the most interesting creatures to study.

You might not know much about pelican – only what you see on nature programs, and hear in the car (Pelican crossings!). But, there is a wealth of fascinating information out there about these stunning creatures, and it’s time to learn more. Here are some of the most interesting and fun facts about everyone’s favorite eccentric birds!

They’re ancient

Okay, we don’t mean necessarily the pelicans you see flying around today, but the family, certainly. In fact, interesting piece of trivia for you, the oldest recorded pelican fossil on record is over 30 million years old and was discovered in France. There have also been discoveries made in countries including India, Kenya, Australia, and even North Carolina – though all younger, obviously. These days there are around 8 species of pelican, and they can be found on almost every continent – except Antarctica!

They don’t store food

There is a common misconception that pelicans actually store food in their bills, in a place called the gular pouch, that hangs from its bills. However, this is not actually true, and, instead, the purpose of the pouch is much more logical and necessary function. While food does go in here, the pouch is used to capture food, such as fish, for consumption. It can be used to operate much like a fishing net, and allows the pelican to catch and trap food, and then drains water that might have been trapped with it.

Pelicans have a varied diet

Again, we might think that a pelican only eats fish, but this is another misconception about these wonderful birds. The pelican actually has a bit of variety to its diet – as well as fish it has also been known to feed on crustaceans, amphibians, turtles, and even other birds! Basically, the approach they take is, if they can fit it in their throats, they will basically eat it. So, don’t be shocked the next time you see a pelican chowing down on something that isn’t a fish.

They have a popular role in Christianity

One of the key myths surrounding pelicans involves the Dalmatian pelican. In medieval times it was said that, when food grew scarce, the mother penguins would stab themselves in the breast with their beak, and feed blood to the chicks! This myth was misconstrued due to the fact that Dalmatian pelicans bills turn red in breeding season – and someone likely saw one and inferred that the behavior was similar to Christ’s sacrifice. Of course, it’s a myth, but that didn’t stop the bird becoming a part of Christian folklore for a time.

Aren’t pelicans fascinating things? So much orf what we commonly thought we knew about them actually turns out to not be the case! It’s clear that there are probably a lot of other things we assumed about them that are falsehoods as well. The more we find out about these fascinating creatures, the more interesting they become. We don’t know about you, but we can’t wait to find out more.