The Dalmatian pelican is one of the two types of pelicans in Bulgaria. It is among the largest Bulgarian birds, with a body length of 160 – 180 cm and a wingspan of 270 – 320 cm. It differs from the pink pelican with its gray-white plumage and the curly feathers of the crown, where his name comes from. During the breeding period, the bill and pouch become bright red.
The Dalmatian pelican inhabits the banks of large water basins rich in fish. It can be seen in several places on the Balkan Peninsula and Western Asia. In the beginning of February the birds returned to their breeding colonies. In Bulgaria until recently there was only one colony in Srebarna Lake.
In the spring of 2016, Dalmatian pelicans inhabited artificial platforms on the island of Persina and so was established the second colony of the species in Bulgaria. In the beginning of June 2016 the first egg was hatched there. Nests on floating reed islands and beaten areas among Reed massifs. The nest itself is built of reed stems and leaves. Inside is made with soft feathers and leaves. Lays 1 – 5 eggs, and has one generation per year. Parents feed their small with half-mashed fish. When searching for food, the adult birds move away to 20 – 30 km from the nesting colonies. The Cubs leave the nests in July-August.
The Dalmatian pelican is considered among the species threatened by extinction in the world. It is included in the Red Book of Bulgaria in the category critically endangered. The reasons for this are complex. Among the main ones are the drainage and degradation of wetlands, the destruction of eggs and juveniles of feral pigs and terrestrial predators, the disturbance during the breeding period, collisions with above-ground electricity lines, oiliness with petroleum products, shooting.
Author: Assoc. Prof. Svetla Dalakchieva