Also referred to as Pelecanus rufescens, the pink-backed pelican belongs to the Pelican family and a notable resident breeder in the shallow lakes and swamps along with waterways such as Kazinga channel where it is always viewed on Uganda Safaris and tours.
pink-backed pelican is a small pelican but not a small bird stretching
from 125 – 155cm in length and 4 – 7kg in weight not forgetting a
wingspan of 2.15 – 2.9m. Its bill is 30 – 38cm.
plumage, the pink-backed pelican is grey and white with its back marked
by a pinkish hue. It has a greyish pouch while the top of the bill is
yellow as always viewed on birding safaris in Uganda. The long feather plumes on the head are present among the breeding adults.
pink-backed pelican thrives in aquatic habitats but it prefers
backwaters that are quiet and shallow and would avoid steep vegetated
lake banks. It prefers lakes with fresh waters and large slow flowing
rivers along with seasonal pools. However, the pink-backed pelican can
as well thrive in saline or alkaline lake and lagoons.
commonly roost and breed in trees like mangroves but can as well do the
same on cliffs, sandy islands, sand dunes and coral reefs. The nesting
trees feature many nests close to one another and these nests are
utilised year after a year until the trees collapse. The nest is put
together with sticks and is always around 10 – 50m from the ground as
often viewed by birders on a Uganda Safari tour.
female pink-backed pelican lays two (2) – three (3) eggs and the chicks
feed by picking the partially digested fish from the adult’s pouch.
The pink-backed pelican majorly feeds on fish like Tilapia and
Haplochromis along with amphibians.
Regarding conservation, the
pink-backed pelican is listed as species of Least Concern under the red
list of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In
Uganda, the pink-backed pelican can be explored along Kazinga Channel in
Queen Elizabeth National Park and on the shores of Lake Victoria. It
can thus be included on the list of what to look out for while planning birding safaris to Uganda.