The Spot-billed pelican is a large, graceful bird. The species gets its name from the spots on its upper bill. There are eight species in the Pelecanus genus, of which the Spot-billed species is found only in the Indian sub-continent.
Pelicans feed almost exclusively on fish and an adult bird can eat as much as 5kg per day. They nest on low hanging trees close to waterbodies. Pelicans have a characteristic fishing style. Usually, two or three of them get together, gradually push fish into a corner and scoop them up in their bills. They store fish in a large pouch under the lower bill, to feed their young. Like all other birds, pelicans do not have teeth, and gulp the fish down whole.
The bird’s Latin name Pelecanus phillipensis, is derived from the Phillipines, where the Spot-billed pelican was commonly seen once upon a time. Ironically, it is now extinct in that country.
In India too, the Spot-billed pelican is an endangered species, thanks entirely to human greed. Many lakes in Bangalore and Mysore have either been encroached by developers or are heavily polluted. Of the few remaining lakes with fish in them, a lot of illegal fishing goes on. Not many pelicanries are left in India. Madivala Lake in Bangalore once had a thriving pelicanry, but it is now gone. If you’re lucky, you might spot a pelican or two at Madivala lake. If you’re lucky.
Other lakes in Bangalore in which you might spot the odd pelican include Hebbal, Jakkur, Begur and perhaps Gulakmale. All the other waterbodies in and around Bangalore are finished. Bellandur and Varthur lakes are filled with foul, evil-smelling chemical foam, and the rest are filled with sewage, weeds, rubble and human waste.
Kukkarahalli Lake in Mysore has a well populated pelicanry with over a hundred nesting birds. Given all the ‘development’ going on in that part of Mysore, I’m not hopeful that it will remain undisturbed for long, but as of now, it’s doing well.
Better visit the place, before it is too late!
Class Aves rocks.