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Soaring high with the thermals Australian Pelican

Noongar name - Budalang

Hear all about it!

Pelicans may feed alone but mostly they feed in groups. These groups can be very large ranging from ten to about 1000 birds. They work as group to drive fish together which makes them easier to catch. Pelicans plunge their bills into the water and use their throat pouches as nets to catch their food. The bill and pouch are sensitive to help find fish in murky water. When a pelican has caught something, it pulls its pouch into its chest to drain out the water. This also helps it to move the fish so that the head is pointing down the pelican’s throat. This makes the fish easier to swallow.  

Pelicans spend most of their time on rivers, lakes and coastal waters. You often see them in Thomson Bay.  For the breeding season, they fly to breeding sites where groups of thousands are formed. These sites are on isolated islands or shores. The two main sites in WA are Emu Point in Albany and Peel Inlet near Mandurah. They can sometimes travel hundreds of kilometres to breed. They use thermals in order to cover these distances as they cannot flap their wings for very long. They commonly fly at around 1000m up in the air, but heights around 3,000 m have also been recorded.

Where you can find a Australian Pelican

Conservation Status

Listed as Least Concern under ICUN (2014). All Rottnest Island’s fauna is protected under the Rottnest Island Authority Act 1987.
  • Extinct
  • Extinct in Wild
  • Critically Endangered
  • Endangered
  • Vulnerable
  • Near Threatened
  • Least Concerned

Help keep Rottnest healthy

  • Do ride carefully on the Island
  • Do keep to designated tracks
  • Do enjoy watching them on their own terms
  • Do take litter with you or use bins provided

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We're always open to feedback on how we can improve Rottnest Island for our visitors and wildlife!