Dalmatian Pelican

Pelecanus crispus Bruch, 1832

Order Pelecaniformes

Family Pelecanidae

Conservation status: in Bulgaria: Critically endangered CR [B1a+B2a+D], BDA-II, III; International: IUCN-VU, CITES-I, BeC-I, BoC-I, II, ECS-Spec 1, BD-I.

General distribution. A Sarmatian species. It breeds on the Balkan peninsula, along the eastern shore of the Black Sea, the coasts of the Sea of Azov, the Caspian Sea and the Aral Sea, Balkhash Lake, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Northern China. The total abundance in the region of the Black Sea and the Mediterranean is 2 300 3 200 individuals [1].

Distribution and abundance in Bulgaria. A breeding summer visitor, a passage migrant and partly winter visitor. In the past, there were breeding colonies along the banks of the Danube and the Black Sea and in the Straldzha Marsh [2]. Since the middle of the 20th century it has been breeding only in Srebarna Lake (in the period 1954-2005 there were between 29 and 128 pairs, 67 at the average). During the migration and in the winter it is found along the Black Sea coast, less frequently within the country. In the region of Burgas Bay between 10 August and 30 October, 226 migrating birds have been registered at the average [3, 4]. In the winter, it has been registered in largest numbers in the Burgas lakes (Mandrensko Ezero 420 individuals in January 1997, and Vaya 323 individuals in January 1999) [5, 6].

Habitats. Freshwater lakes and marshes, reservoirs and microreservoirs and fish farms; during migrations and wintering mainly coast brackish water basins, and non-freezing reservoirs within the country.

Biology. It breeds in lakes and marshes with vast reedbeds, difficult to access, usually from the beginning of February. When looking for food, adult birds fly up to 20-30 km away from the breeding colonies. The clutch consists of 1-5 eggs. The young ones start flying in July-August. The breeding success in Srebarna is 0,84 young/breeding pair at the average; [7]. It feeds exclusively on fish.

Similar species. The White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus).

Negative factors. In the breeding places: threat of predators and wild boars, persecution (in the past), fires in the reedbeds, extremely low temperatures, violation of the integrity of the breeding places as a result of an inordinarily high water level. During migration and wintering: clashing into electric power cables [8], shooting [9], soiling the feathers with black oil.

Conservation measures taken. A protected species as of 1962; included in the Red Data Book of Bulgaria (1985); an international plan has been prepared for its conservation, there is a good level of information of the population, monitoring and studies on its biology and ecology are being carried out, a plan for the management of the Srebarna reserve has been prepared [10].

Conservation measures needed. Preparation of a national plan for its conservation and its implementation, study of the feeding places and declaring a bilateral reserve with Romania, maintenance of the breeding places.

References. 1. Crivelli, Michev, 1997; 2. Michev, 1985; 3. Simeonov et al., 1989; 4. Michev et al., in prep.; 5. Michev, Profirov, 2003; 6. Dimitrov et al., 2005; 7. Michev, Crivelli, 1998; 8. Crivelli et al., 1988; 9. Crivelli et al., 1991; 10. Hiebaum et al., 2000.

Authors: Tanyo Michev, Pavel Simeonov

Dalmatian Pelican (distribution map)

Dalmatian Pelican (drawing)