Posted by: Debra Kolkka | February 24, 2014

A wonderful bird is the pelican

His bill can hold more than his bellican,

He can take in his beak

Enough food for a week

But I’m damned if I see how the helican!

This poem was written by Dixon Lanier Merritt in 1910.


Apparently it is true. The pelican’s bill can hold 3 times as much as its stomach.

We came upon a wonderful pelican wading in the shallow surf at Main Beach. He was hovering around my old friend Col, the wormer, in the hope that a little treat might come his way. Col had quite an audience with the pelican and seagulls.



Pelicans are amazing birds. They have a huge wingspan, up to 3.4 metres, and take off by running across the water to build up speed while flapping their wings.

Australian pelicans are white with black wingtips. They found all over Australia and are the largest of the 8 species of pelicans found worldwide and also have the longest bill. They have leathery blue/grey legs and feet and are most ungainly on land.






Col demonstrated how agile they can be by throwing a fish. The pelican was instantly in the air, caught the fish and with one gulp it was gone.






Col now has a friend for life. As we left the pelican was watching him like a hawk hoping for another tidbit to come flying through the air.

I love the feathers on the back of its head and those remarkable eyes.


I really love my early morning walks on the beach. For more on Col, the amazing wormer, click here.


  1. We fondly remember them. Our walks along Main Beach, observing these beautiful birds were part of our daily lives. We miss them… but life goes on. Thank you, Debra, for bringing back those memories.

    • I don’t see them all that often on the beach, more on the broadwater. It was a delightful encounter.

  2. Thanks for this! Reminds me of the pelican that comes to the jetty of my Mum’s place on Lake Macquarie at dusk. You’re making me homesick!!

    • They are amazing birds. I love watching them land on the water. For such a big bird they are very graceful in the air.

  3. I LOVE pelicans!! Thank you so much for this post.

    • They are great looking birds. I was surprised to see one in the surf.

  4. They’re beautiful, aren’t they? We ran into one at the Fish Markets a couple of years ago and were able to get up very close to him/her – just a stunning bird! Lovely photos, Deb! xx

    • This one allowed us to get close. He was concentrating on Col’s fish.

  5. I too love Pelicans – growing up on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland – we loved the Pelicans, especially when we had been fishing – they would hang close by until the fish were filleted and they got their share of fish head and remains . Still have a couple of favourite ones who visit Laidlaw Parade and hang around the boat deck hoping always for a feed. John Craig and Ethan have special names for them. Lovely blog thanks Deb ..

    • They are fabulous looking birds and seem prepared to put up with humans for the benefits.

  6. Wow,it’s interesting.

    • It was fun to meet a pelican on our morning walk.

  7. Beautiful coloring on those birds. Very impressive!

    • They are big birds and very beautiful.

  8. Beautiful images… If I get to meet birds like this, I won’t mind waking up early and going for a walk every day 🙂

    • I have been walking on the beach early every morning and this is my first pelican.

  9. Such beautiful colours in those photographs and Col was such a good sport. I love watching pelicans come into land – like big bombers with clearance from the control tower.

    • It was good of Col to donate some of his worm bait for a good cause.

  10. Just beautiful Debra…. I miss the GC beach and all its wonders 😉 How good are you for getting up so close to Mr Pelican??? x

    • He let us get quite close because he was longing for one of Col’s fish.

  11. I love pelicans! I have only ever seen them stalking tourists in Greek restaurants, they are so charming and funny!

    • They manage to be comical and elegant at the same time.

  12. I admit I would have been a little afraid to get so close to take those pics…maybe you had a zoom lens! 🙂 great pics!

    • The bird was not aggressive at all and allowed us to get quite close. I did use a zoom for the close up of his head.

  13. Love the poem and love the pelican with its comical looks, startled eye and lumbering walk. Will always remember ‘Mr Percival’ in “Storm Boy” – that bird shared the star billing in the film.

    • Storm Boy was a lovely movie about a boy and a pelican.

  14. I’m a pelican fan too. These are great photos!

    It’s unusual to see them in, or close to, the surf, as they normally prefer calm water.

    • I often see them at the calm water on the other side of the spit where they hang around the retuning trawlers looking for scraps.

  15. Wow, those photos are amazing! And, yes, the eyes–I had never noticed a pelican’s eyes before. How cool!

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • They are great looking birds. It was wonderful to be so close to one.

  16. Quite different from the brown pelicans I’m used to seeing along the Louisiana coast. They almost don’t look like they are from the same species. I love that his feet tinted a bluish color.

    • I haven’t seen brown pelicans. I’m sure they are just as wonderful as the white and black ones.

  17. He is handsome and he knows it Debra 🙂 Lovely shots.

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