Predators Of Pelicans | Do Pelicans Have Predators Naturally?

Pelicans look pretty strange, don’t they? Curious eyes and a large tub-like beak in which they stuff their food.

Are pelicans predators or are they prey? Do they eat other animals and fishes or are they hunted by them?

What Do Pelicans Eat?

Pelicans are terrestrial birds. They live near water bodies. So, naturally fish make up most of their diet. They open their huge beak and try to catch fish in their pouch and then gurgle them down.

In case, they find a big fish, they catch it with tips, toss it up in the air, and then swallow it down. White pelicans are often found fishing in groups when they form a line and chase small fishes.

Predators of pelicans:

Do Pelicans Have Any Natural Predators?

Yes, pelicans have predators. Usually, they fall prey to dogs, cats, coyotes, etc.

Coyotes are a major predator of pelicans. Since pelicans are large birds, they have very few predators.

Humans are also counted as one of their predators. Pelicans are killed for their feathers, meat, and for medical purposes.

White pelicans are usually reported haunted by their predators, but the case is rare with brown pelicans. Pelican eggs may fall prey to predation, but adult brown pelicans are free from the fear of predators.

Humans eat pelicans, as the meat is almost the same as a fish, with a very bad fishy flavor. Thus, humans predate them mainly for medical purposes.

Do Sharks Eat Pelicans?

Surprisingly, yes. Sharks live in water and usually feed on sea animals and birds.

Pelican is a terrestrial bird, but in a recent study, scientists found several terrestrial birds’ bodies in tiger shark stomachs. But they only formed a small percentage, and most of the time, they were songbirds.

Scientists suspected that, when these birds fly near the sea surface, they must have been attacked by sharks.

A story of a pelican, Lucky, was shared a lot when he was attacked by a shark but survived the attack miraculously. It had taken two hundred stitches to get his neck pouch fixed.

Do Whales Eat Pelicans?

It is not common but an incident was reported where a humpback whale attacked a pelican who was hunting on anchovies. The whale opened its big mouth and took it in. Whether she liked the taste or not, isn’t known.

Do Any Other Animals Or Species Eat Pelicans?

Pelicans are terrestrial birds. They typically roam around the shore and thus, are often caught by coyotes, dogs, and cats. They have a few predators in the sea as well, and that’s why they fly in groups over water bodies.

Pelican chicks are more often threatened by a number of predators, such as raccoons, reptiles like snakes, and large lizards and alligators. Due to their large size, they often succeed in scaring away these predators.

Do Pelicans Stab Themselves?

First, it is a myth spread as a rumor by an observer who didn’t look closely and spread the myth. Pelicans are 30 million years old, so their mention in history shouldn’t surprise you.

In medieval Europe, it was believed that when there was scarce food, mother pelicans used to stab themselves in their chest and used to feed their flesh and blood to their offspring.

Sounds like a touching story? It isn’t true, because pelicans are smart birds.

Secondly, in mating season, the Dalmatian pelicans’ gular pouches, or what you call beaks, turn a dark orange color, same as white pelicans grow horns on their beak during the breeding season. 

This gular pouch of Dalmatian Pelicans looks strange and this may be the reason this rumor became popular when someone saw the bird preening or scratching and spun a nice story.

It was also believed until the 17th century that they could bring back their dead children by giving them their blood. Since then, the pelicans were considered a bird of self-sacrifice when the poor bird is quite different in reality

Do Pelicans Eat Themselves?

No, they don’t eat themselves. These stories have been popular for centuries but pelicans are not cannibals and don’t stab or eat themselves.

How Do Pelicans Protect Themselves From Predators?

Their long beak helps them a lot, as they use it to ward off predators. If they are ever followed by raptors, which are very rare, they use their air sacs beneath their skin to inflate themselves, so their internal organs are not damaged.

Since they have a big pouch, it makes them difficult to be eaten by other predators. But Coyote doesn’t find it any difficult.

Final Words

Pelicans are large birds and have few predators, which have been discussed above. They play an important role in the food chain and keep the food cycle going. 

There are also certain myths prevalent about them that have been busted above.

Their biggest threat presently is humans now, as their activities are causing all kinds of problems in the environment and threatening these birds.

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