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Outback Pelicans

series: Nature

air date: 8/15/13 3:00 AM

The Australian outback is the driest place on the driest inhabited continent on the planet. It is a place you might expect to see kangaroos but certainly not waterbirds. Yet once every 10 years, rains flood into dried-up river beds and head inland to create the largest lake in Australia, and 100,000 pelicans -- a third of all the pelicans in Australia -- arrive for the event. Leaving their homes on coasts and harbors, they come to feed on fish washed in on the floods and on billions of brine shrimp and other crustaceans which hatch and grow to adulthood in a few days in water twice as salty as the Dead Sea. The pelicans have come home to court and raise as many families as possible before the water and the food disappear once more.

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