Grey pelican or Spot billed pelican in india. Pelecanus philippensis is a member of the pelican family. Spot billed pelican (Pelecanus philippensis) breeds in southern Asia from southern Pakistan across India east to Indonesia.
Spot billed pelican in India
Spot billed pelican is a bird of large inland and coastal waters, especially large lakes. At a distance they are difficult to differentiate from other pelicans in the region although it is smaller but at close range the spots on the upper mandible, the lack of bright colors and the grayer plumage are distinctive. In some areas these birds nest in large colonies close to human habitations.
The spot-billed pelican is mainly white, with a grey crest, hind-neck and a brownish tail. The feathers on the hind neck are curly and form a grayish nape crest. The pouch is pink to purplish and has large pale spots, and is also spotted on the sides of the upper mandible. The tip of the bill (or nail) is yellow to orange. In breeding plumage, the skin at the base of the beak is dark and the orbital patch is pink.
In flight spot-billed look not unlike the Dalmatian pelican but the tertials and inner secondaries are darker and a pale band runs along the greater coverts. The tail is rounder. The newly hatched young are covered in white down. They then molt into a grayish speckled plumage. The spots on the bill appear only after a year. The full adult breeding plumage appears in their third year.
The Grey pelican is found to breed only in peninsular India, Sri Lanka and in Cambodia. A few birds from India are known to winter in the Gangetic plains but reports of its presence in many other parts of the region such as the Maldives, Pakistan and Bangladesh has been questioned. The main habitat is in shallow lowland freshwater. The spot-billed pelican is not migratory but are known to make local movements and are more widely distributed in the non-breeding season.
Grey pelican is a colonial breeder, often breeding in the company of other waterbirds. The nests are on low trees near wetlands and sometimes near human habitations. Many large breeding colonies have been recorded and several have disappeared over time.
Grey pelican are very silent although at their nests they can make hisses, grunts or snap their bills. Some early descriptions of nesting colonies have claimed them to be distinctive in their silence but most have noted colonies as noisy.
Like most other pelicans, it catches fish in its huge bill pouch while swimming at the surface. Unlike the great white pelican it does not form large feeding flocks and is usually found to fish singly or in small flocks. Groups may however sometimes line up and drive fish towards the shallows. When flying to their roosts or feeding areas, small groups fly in formation with steady flapping. During the hot part of the day, they often soar on thermals. They may forage at night to some extent.
The Grey pelican birds nest in colonies and the nest is a thick platform of twigs placed on a low tree. The breeding season varies from October to May. In Kaziranga of Assam, the breeding season follows the onset of the northeast monsoon. The courtship display of the males involves a distention of the pouch with swinging motions of the head up and down followed by sideways swings followed by the head being held back over the back. Bill claps may also be produced during the head swaying movements.
The nests are usually built alongside other colonial waterbirds, particularly painted storks. Three to four chalky white eggs is the usual clutch. The eggs become dirty with age. Eggs hatch in about 30–33 days. The young stay in or near the nest from three to five months. In captivity the young are able to breed after two years. Like other pelicans, they cool themselves using gular fluttering and panting.