Soaring pelican numbers please birders

A pelican soars over the surf on Seven Mile Beach. - PHOTO: JAMES WHITTAKER

Birding enthusiasts are reporting increased numbers of brown pelicans in the Cayman Islands this year.

A pelican dives for fish in the shallow waters off Seven Mile Beach. – PHOTO: JAMES WHITTAKER
A pelican dives for fish in the shallow waters off Seven Mile Beach. – PHOTO: JAMES WHITTAKER

The iconic large-billed birds have become a frequent sight off Cayman’s shorelines, bobbing in the surf or dive bombing shoals of fish in the shallows.

According to Paul Watler, environmental programs manager with the National Trust, pelicans are an occasional winter visitor to the Cayman Islands. He said there had been no ongoing survey of pelican numbers to provide empirical data to back up anecdotal evidence from birders that numbers were up this year.

He added, “Brown pelicans are migratory birds, and we expect a fair amount of variability in terms of sightings or numbers from year to year.

“This underscores an important point – how we treat our feathered friends has a knock-on effect, so we should be doubly responsible, as populations in other parts of the region can become affected.”

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