Skadar Lake is the biggest lake on the Balkan Peninsula, a transboundary wetland of international importance shared by Montenegro and Albania. The lake hosts a small breeding colony of Dalmatian pelicans (Pelecanus crispus), one of the largest birds in the world and classified as Vulnerable at an international level. Since the 17th century, 80% of the Dalmatian Pelican’s breeding sites have disappeared, and today, its presence in Europe is limited to only 13 wetlands in the Balkans and the Caucasus.
Dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus Crispus) is the largest freshwater bird in the world. Curiously, it is found in one of the world’s smallest countries, Montenegro, with the oldest record occurring in the 19th century. Although they are completely dependent on fish, these birds can’t dive; their size/weight ratio keeps them afloat. Thus, they choose shallow lakes and sea lagoons, where they can hunt and build dense colonies, using whatever substrate they can find. On Skadar Lake, they breed on the small peat islands, formed by compacting of swamp vegetation, in the pristine surrounding of flooded willows, reedbeds, and floating water lilies. There are also the cormorants in the neighborhood, which are known to help pelicans with fishing: cormorants are excellent divers, and by doing so, they scare the fish from the bottom up to the pelicans. That being said, it becomes clear that pelicans represent the indicator of a healthy ecosystem with preserved links between different species. So, the pelicans at Skadar Lake really seem to have an idyllic life condition.
Montenegro was represented in the North American Ornithological Conference, 2016. Andrej Vizi’s work was included in the North American Ornithological Conference 2016, sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution and held in Washington, DC. Andrej presented the poster below detailing the results of the census carried out on Skadar Lake.