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Boon Companions

Kharkov Zoo is preparing for its 120th anniversary. Last year a new modern Pelican House was opened in one of the Zoo ponds. This year cormorants that lived in one of pavilions of the Bird House, joined the pelicans.

Pelicans and cormorants belong to Pelicaniformes order. Legs of these birds resemble oars and help them to swim. They are webbed and situated close to the end of the body. Unlike geese and ducks who have webs on three fingers. pelicaniformes have all four fingers webbed. On land pelicaniformes look clumsy and splay-footed but on water they are fast and agile. Come and see it for yourself.

These photos show well legs of a cormorant, a pelican and a bean goose

European white pelican was claimed a bird of the 2015th year in Ukraine. These birds do not inhabit Kharkov region. Their flocks can be seen in the South of Ukraine. Unfortunately, pelican populations are endangered. In order to protect these species, conservationalists have included them into the Redbook of Ukraine. 

The majority of pelicans of Kharkov Zoo beliong to European white pelican species. Also we have Dalmatian pelicans. This bird has frilled feathers on the head. Its gular sac is orange-coloured.

European white pelican

Dalmatian pelican

Speaking of gular sacs, this is what pelicans are famous for. When they catch a fish, they gorge it together with water. Then they drain water away and either swallow the fish or carry it where it is necessary. The capacity of gular sack is more than 10 litres! Please take into account that pelican's body weighs fro 10 to 15 kilos.

Cormorants are smaller than pelicans. But they areas much interesting. It is a great pleasure to watch them swim, play, build their nests and "sort things out".

Quite often one may see a cormorant sit near water and wave their spreaded wings. This is the way they dry their feathers (their feathers, unlike other waterfowl, soak with water).

One might ask - what's the point of such feathers that get wet? It impedes launch into the air and makes birds spend much time while getting dry. Still, it is an acquisition, not a loss. It is much easier for a soaken-wet cormorant to take to water after fish than it is for a dry bird. One can get convinced by it while watching dapper plunges of cormorants and comparing them to dabbling of anseriformes. The latter have a layer of air under feathers. This air pulls them up and impedes immersion. Comrorants do not have that obstacle.

Come to the Zoo and see if that is true!