Bird Word: Pelagic

Albatrosses are just one type of pelagic birds. – Photo © Ed Dunens/Flickr/CC by 2.0

This is Passport to Texas

It’s fun to talk with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department ornithologist Cliff Shackelford; I always learn something new—such as the word, pelagic.

Pelagic. These are birds of the open ocean or open water.

Cliff points out we’re NOT referring to birds that hang out on lakes and ponds. We’re talking about the big water.

So, in Texas, the Gulf of Mexico is going to be open ocean, basically. And we have lot of birds: storm petrels, shearwaters, albatrosses…these are pelagic birds. These are birds that spend most of their day, and most of their life, out in open waters.

I wondered: do pelagic bird species ever come on land?

They sleep on the water. They feed out on the water. They’re mostly flying—some of them can probably sleep while aloft. But, they of course, have to come to land when it’s the breeding season. And some of these birds don’t get to be sexually ready until maybe their fourth of fifth year like some of the albatrosses. So they might wander the ocean of the world for the first four 9r five years of their life before they ever really touch land.

A clever way to glimpse this fascinating group of birds…tomorrow.

The Wildlife restoration program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

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