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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Gliding along the coast

Along the Pacific Coast, Brown Pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) nest on islands off of western Mexico and in southern California on the Channel Islands (West Anacapa and Santa Barbara islands).  Post-breeding, they disperse northward along the coast as far as British Columbia.

Can you guess the length of their wingspan (from tip to tip)?

Average wingspan for Brown Pelicans is ~2 meters (6.5 feet).

 Can you guess: 
  • the length of the bill?
  • the volume of water the pouch can hold?
  • maximum life span?
  • favorite food in the Southern California Bight?

  • Their bills are extremely long, ~25-38 cm (9-14")
  • The distinctive pouch can hold ~2 gallons of water 
  • Maximum life span is ~40 years
  • Favorite food in the Southern California Bight: Northern Anchovy and Pacific Sardine

One more: How fast do you think they can glide (how many meters/second or miles per hour)?

The average gliding speed of Brown Pelicans is ~11.7 meters/second (26 miles per hour).

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