|The 2018/19 Eastern Crescent Island Pelican rookery crèche on 5/12/18 – there are about 50 young birds in the crèche.|
There has been a separate Pelican breeding colony at the Western end of Crescent Island which first bred there in 2016/17 and again this season – they missed breeding there in 2017/18. This colony started much earlier than the Eastern colony.
|After the initial melee, the begging chick seen here looked to belong to the adult bird.|
|The adult is standing tall with wings held out and bill high. The chick must stand tall to use its bill to try and get the adult to open its bill for a feed. I suspect the young one is holding its wings out for balance.|
|Several excited young that had attempted to beg a feed continued to jostle among themselves after it was clear which chick belonged to the adult. This pair have locked bills as they work off their excitement. (2).|
|The chick persisted in begging.|
|The young bird to the left was still excited but did not attempt to approach the adult bird.|
It is hard to interpret this behaviour, as it is with much animal behaviour. The young bird clearly wants to be fed so its begging behaviour is clear. However why the adult is so slow to give in to the begging and provide the chick with the food it so clearly wants is hard to understand. (3) Why does the parent withhold the food for so long and make the chick expend so much energy begging for a feed? Perhaps the parent is deliberately making the chick work for the feed, but is this for the exercise or survival value or is it to make the chick demonstrate it is really hungry and needs the food? Can greedy chicks consume more food than is good for them?
|At this point the adult and chick have turned away from one another and I thought we may not see a feed given.|
|The chick persisted and returned to touch the parents bill.|
|Still the manoeuvring continues.|
|Another bill-open moment.|
|This is looking more like a feed is about to take place.|
The time taken for the begging ritual was about 4 minutes and 30 seconds.
|Finally the chick has its head inside the adult’s bill and its bill down the adult’s neck/throat. The adult is regurgitating food.|
|The feeding went on and on.|
The total time for the feed was nearly 3 minutes. (4)
Chicks can become seriously oxygen deprived during feeding and can take some time to recover following feeding including exhibiting strange drunken like behaviour and aggression towards surrounding Pelicans – more information about this behaviour including photos can be found here: http://avithera.blogspot.com/2018/01/australian-pelican-juveniles-strange.html