Caribbean pelicans

Pelicans on the beach

On North Caicos, Providenciales there is a wide white sand beach at the far eastern end of touristy Grace Bay that is accessible from a public access within the Leeward community from Pelican Drive. In front of the Pelican Beach Hotel, Pelican Point is a quiet and rocky point that is home to a flock of brown pelicans.

The brown pelicans of the Caribbean are the smallest of the pelican species and are known for their incredible style of plunge diving. They are gregrarious birds that live in flocks and are as graceful in the air as they are clumsy on land. They are the national bird of the Turks and Caicos as well as St Kitts, Barbados, St Maarten and Romania.

Dating back 30 million years and revered by ancient Egyptians and Christians, these remarkable water birds are characterised by their long beaks and large throat pouches used for catching prey and draining water from the scooped up contents before swallowing. Despite their prehistoric status Wikipedia says the relationship between pelicans and people has always been contentious. These birds have been persecuted because of their perceived competition with fishing and suffer from habitat destruction, disturbance and environmental pollution.

The Turks and Caicos has tweaked the interest of serious birders since the government set aside 33 protected areas of national parks, nature reserves and sanctuaries. Beautiful by Nature is the national slogan and over 190 bird species can be found at varying times of the year throughout the islands mainly due to the fact that the Bahamas chain is an important route for migratory birds between North and South America.

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For an external link to birding in the Turks and Caicos, click here