Stray Magnet Blog

Pelicans: a misconception of how they die

Whenever we get a chance to visit the coast I am always taken by the pelicans. They appear to be such big beautiful birds. I am awe of them flying in formation, their keen eyesight as they look for fish from above and their aerodynamic pilot skills as they dive in the water to retrieve fish. Then I am saddened by their fate. As a young adult I was told by my father, one of the smartest people I know, that Pelicans die because they go blind due to the harsh impact when they hit the water diving for fish.  They can’t eat and eventually starve to death. It has troubled me ever since.

Why would God create a bird intended to dive to eat for survival to then die a sad fate by the means it was created.

pelicanPRAISE GOD for researching this blog article!!! I naively took my father’s answer as the truth and for many years have wrongfully contemplated the Pelicans sad fate. Pelicans don’t go blind because of hitting the water hard.

In fact, according to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology , “Pelicans have several adaptations to diving, including air sacs beneath the skin on their breast that serve as cushions and floats. While diving, they also rotate their body to the left, probably to avoid injury to their trachea and esophagus, which are on the right side of neck.” They go on to explain most reports of pelicans dying due to blindness “for other reasons, including infections resulting from disease or hook and line injuries.” “Other causes of mortality for Brown Pelicans include starvation because of scarcity of fish during cold temperatures and the stress of migration, especially for younger birds.”

I shared with my father the good news and he was thrilled and responded, “it will keep me from getting sad when I see one diving on fish.” So for any others of you who have heard pelicans die because they go blind from harsh impact into the water, it’s not true. Next time someone tells you something, make sure you do your research first!

Photo: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.