Pelicans are large water birds with extraordinarily long, big beaks and a very stretchabel throat pouch. Together with the kori bustard they are the world’s heaviest birds that are able to fly.
Why Is A Pelican’s Beak So Large?
The beak of a pelican can hold three gallons (11 liters) of water. To put it more precisely: in the skin pouch located at the throat and connected to the lower beak. The stomach of a pelican is just half as big by the way.
Is the pelican so thirsty that it has to swallow so much water at one go? That can’t be true. The skin pouch doesn’t work like a water pistol either – even if this would be fun. The right answer is: The pelican uses its beak like a landing net or a dipper to catch some fish. It just opens its beak a little bit and “floods” the pouch with water. Then it slightly opens the beak again to let the water flow off. The delicious fish stay in the pouch and then can be swallowed.