My Pelican Encounter at The Entrance
I once saw a pair of flamingos while dining in a politician’s house. The birds were enclosed in glass, in an indoor garden facing the dining area. I can imagine the expression of their dinner guests whenever the two long legged pink birds walked towards the opposite side.
I felt bad for the birds. God knows how they feel whenever dinner guests ogled at their presence. Like other living creatures, birds must be allowed to wander as they please.
Fast forward to more than 10 years later, during my first pelican encounter. Unlike the flamingos in Manila, these birds can wander all they want in their natural habitat and still enjoy regular feeding time and professional care.
Our family trip to Australia this year included a visit to The Entrance, at the Central Coast where pelicans are fed at 3:30 pm every day.
The daily feeding started 20 years ago, when a restaurant employee from Clifford’s fish and chip shop would give scraps to the pelicans at the sea shore. The practice was carried on by Jimbo’s Seafood and by then the birds have developed a habit of waddling over to the store to demand their daily meal.
By 1996, the Town Centre Management has institutionalized the practice with a feeding platform aptly called the Pelican Plaza. Through donations and sponsors the birds can feast on fresh fish every day.
Aside from the food, the daily session allows volunteers to check on the pelican’s well-being. The birds end-up wounded whenever they tangled up on lines and hooks. Volunteers treat the injured birds whenever they come for their food.
The birds seem friendly as they walked around the plaza waiting for food. Tourists (like us) would happily feed them bread scraps which is miniscule compared to what their bill can hold.
The Entrance has been recognized as “The Pelican Capital of Australia”. And everyone is welcome to take part in this popular attraction. It’s free of charge, but please consider making a donation to support to help the organizers cover the cost.
- The Australian Pelican’s has the longest bill, it can grow as long as 47 cm. It is long enough to catch anything they please including your mobile phones.
- They are one of the heaviest flying birds, and can weigh anywhere between 4-6.5 kg,
- They go wherever there is food. They change locations when the supply becomes scarce.
- Their primary food is fish. They also eat crustaceans, small turtles, frogs, and, at times, even smaller birds.
- When catching fish they flap their wings against the water so that the fish will move to the shallow part and then they do a plunge dive.
- The large pouch that dangles under pelican’s bill is called the the gular sac which is used to capture food. Once they captured their prey, they contract the sac to remove excess water before gulping down.