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Common Name : Spotted-billed Pelican     -       Scientific Name : Pelecanus philippensis       -       Other Name : Spot-billed Pelican (E), Hansakawa (S)
Hunuwilagama Tank
07/22/2013
Pomparippu
04/03/2015
Pomparippu
04/03/2015
Pomparippu
04/03/2015

This is a breeding resident species. They are common in most large water bodies in the low country dry zone. The origin of the birds seen around Colombo and the surrounding areas is quite interesting. In the early nineties as the pairs that at the Dehiwala Zoo started to breed the young birds were permitted to perch on the trees at the “free flying water bird colony” within the premises. After some time these birds not only started to fly towards the water bodies in the surrounding areas but successfully established breeding colonies.

As the global populations of these species are on the decline, the global conservation status of this species is regarded as “Near threatened”. However as the populations in the country are quite stable the local conservation status is regarded as “Least Concerned” (National Red List 2012).

The Spotted-billed Pelican is a species protected under the Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance as amended by Act No. 22 of 2009.

The highest altitude at which I have observed this species so far has been at the lake in Kandy at 472meters from sea level. They are common in the Jaffna Peninsula and the island of Mannar. These birds usually nest in mixed breeding colonies along with the other water birds such as Ibis, Openbills, Storks, egrets and Cormorants. Around Colombo they are very common at the Beira Lake, Lunawa Lagoon, Kotte lakes and Marshes, Attidiya Sanctuary etc.

On many occasions I have observed large flocks of these birds, sometime up to about 50 birds, swimming together to drive fish towards shallow areas where they are ceased with their enormous bills. Little Cormorants and Indian Shags are usually associated with such hunting parties. As the birds reach the shore they will fly back to join the group repeatedly to keep the shoal of fish close to the shore where they are caught with ease. I have seen this group hunting behaviour even at the Beira Lake in Colombo.

While engaging in studies of the nesting birds on the Adam’s Bridge Islands I have observed on a few occasions flocks of these birds flying to and from India along these islands.

This is not a commonly seen species at Wilpattu. I have counted about 20 pairs nesting at the mixed nesting colony at Mardanmaduwa. I have seen them at Hunuwilagama Tank, Thimbiri Wila, Mahapatessa, and Periya Villu and at maradanmaduwa.