You will know them by their tousled head
With a wingspan nearing 3 m, Dalmatian pelicans are among the biggest birds in Bulgaria. However, their most impressive feature is their huge beak with its throat pouch. In the breeding season the beak and the pouch turn bright red, adding to the pelicans’ attractiveness. These gigantic birds are easily recognizable by their uniform white-greyish plumage and the curly feathers on their head. The Dalmatian pelican is one of the two species of pelican that are found in Bulgaria.
Wetlands: the pelicans’ home
Pelicans live in wetlands with lush vegetation on the periphery of the water. The birds search for food in fresh-water basins. The availability of suitable nesting and feeding habitats is a prerequisite for the breeding of the Dalmatian pelican.
You can find it also…
One of the most important sites for the conservation of the Dalmatian pelican in Bulgaria are the Burgas Lakes. These wetlands play an enormous role for the species during its wintering and migration. Dalmatian pelicans can be observed in the lakes throughout the year, with highest numbers during migration – from several hundred to almost a thousand individuals. Significant numbers of pelicans spend the winter on some of the larger reservoirs in South Bulgaria – Ovcharitsa, Rozov Kladenets, Studen Kladenets, etc.
In the city of Burgas you can spot flying flocks of pelicans every day – they spend the night in Atanassovsko Lake and go to feed in Vaya Lake. During migration and in the winter Dalmatian pelicans have been observed in inland wetlands too.
Recovering and improving important sites and habitats
New safe breeding grounds
Creating the right nesting conditions for Dalmatian pelicans at suitable sites is among the most important priorities for its conservation. At key locations for the species in Bulgaria, such as the marshes on Persin Island and the Burgas Lakes, man-made platforms are built to stimulate the establishment of new breeding colonies. These raised platforms built within the boundaries of the wetlands provide peace for the birds and protect them from wild boar, jackals, stray dogs, etc.
Measures against poaching
Poaching and disturbance in the areas where Dalmatian pelicans breed, feed, migrate or winter are among the most serious threats for the species. Therefore, the BSPB cooperated with state institutions (regional inspectorates of environment and water, regional forest directorates, state forest management units) to start a patrolling programme in the wetlands where the problem exists.
Safe electricity pylons and poles
‘Traffic lights’ for pelicans
In certain conditions such as low visibility due to fog or heavy wind, Dalmatian pelicans, as well as other big birds, can collide with power lines on their migration routes and on their daily routes to their feeding and resting sites.
Unfortunately, sometimes the pelicans are not able to see the power lines in front of them and collision may follow; the collisions are lethal for the pelicans. The victims are most frequently heavy, clumsy birds. This calls for additional measures to prevent such sad incidents.
To help against collisions with the lines of the power distribution grid, diverters are used. Diverters are devices with reflective surfaces that are installed along the length of the power lines. As they rotate, they reflect sunlight, thus signaling to the birds of the obstacle ahead and giving them the chance to avoid it.
In order to learn more about pelican migration and movements our team has started taging them with GPS-GSM transmitters. The devices will deliver valuable data and we will learn more about threats for the survival of the species.