The Dalmatian Pelican is one of the two species of pelican found in Bulgaria. It is among the biggest members of our avifauna; with a wingspan of over 2.5 metres (8.2 ft.) it looks like a small hang glider. It can be distinguished from its cousin, the White Pelican, by its uniformly light grey plumage and the curly feathers on the top of its head. During the breeding season its bill and the skin pouch become bright red and make the birds even more beautiful and attractive.
The species nests in isolated sites across the Balkan Peninsula and Western Asia. In Bulgaria it nests only in Srebarna Lake. The Burgas Lakes are one of the most important sites for the species during migration and in winter when you can see congregations of a few hundred, and sometimes up to more than a thousand individuals.
At present the Dalmatian Pelican is considered a globally endangered species; the reasons for that are complex. One of them is the deterioration and/or destruction of its preferred habitats for feeding, breeding and resting, namely wetlands with dense water vegetation.
Illegal fishing in inland water bodies in Bulgaria reduces the food resources of the species and the resulting disturbance can chase the birds away. Dalmatian Pelicans also die of electrocution and collisions with cables of the electric distribution network.
The BSPB implements priority conservation actions for the Dalmatian Pelican as part of several projects in areas where the species is found in Bulgaria: the course of the Danube River and the Black Sea coast.
The Burgas-based LIFE+ Project Life for the Burgas Lakes initiated the insulation of 60 potentially dangerous electric poles around Atanassovsko Lake. For the first time in Bulgaria bird flight diverters were installed – a total of 760; the moving plates with reflective surface are hung along the cables of the distribution lines and act as a warning for approaching birds for the risk of collision with the lines. The total length of distribution lines with diverters installed in the Atanassovsko Lake area amounts to about 7.5 km (4.7 mi.).
We built eight platforms and islands for nesting and resting for rare and endangered species of birds, including the Dalmatian Pelican, in Poda Protected Area and in Atanassovsko Lake. The shallow salt lagoon Atanassovsko Lake is an important site for birds from Central and Eastern Europe migrating to Africa and back along the Via Pontica route which passes along the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. The Burgas Lakes are among the key resting sites for the migrants.
The National Action Plan for the conservation of the Dalmatian Pelican was approved in the end of 2012 as a result of cooperation between interested parties and experts. It describes the main threats for the species as well as the priority measures to be taken for its preservation for the future generations.
Learn more about the Dalmatian Pelican