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Brown Pelicans

Pelecanus occidentalis


Unique among the world's seven species of pelicans, the Brown Pelican is found along the ocean shores and on only a few inland lakes in the southwestern U.S. It is the only dark pelican, and also the only one that plunges from the air into the water to catch its food.


This was the first large batch that we approached while hiking toward Houston Audubon Society, Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary. This group was sitting with gulls and other shore birds just at the edge of the water. This stretch of beach is open cars who wish to drive on the wet sand to park closer to Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary.


Approximately 140,000 shorebirds, representing 37 species use Bolivar Flats for both feeding and roosting. The area also serves as a year- round roost for gulls and terns; a feeding area for herons and egrets, a wintering site for the American White Pelican, and a wintering site for several species of waterfowl. The federally endangered species brown pelican and peregrine falcon are other important species using the flats for roosting and feeding. The adjacent salt marsh hosts clapper rails, seaside sparrow, and sharp-tailed sparrow. Black Skimmers and Least terns attempt to nest on the flats every year, but usually are not successful because of vehicular traffic. The huge bird population is largely supported by Bolivar Flats' rich, benthic infauna. Polychaet worms are the most abundant benthic animals. Shorebird use is highest in the winter and in early spring. Dunlin, Western Sandpipers, Short-billed Dowitcher, and American Avocet are the most abundant winter shorebirds. Willets and Wilson's Plovers nest at the site. Willets, Black-bellied Plovers, and Sanderlings occur all year. The area is also one of the most important wintering sites for the threatened Piping Plover.

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Spotted by

Texas, USA

Spotted on Sep 24, 2012
Submitted on Sep 30, 2012

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