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PELICAN ("ḳa'at"):

Unclean bird mentioned in Lev. xi. 18 and Deut. xiv. 17. Reference to its habit of living in ruins and desolate places is made in Isa. xxxiv. 11 and Zeph. ii. 14 (A. V. "cormorant") and in Ps. cii. 7 (A. V. 6). From its habit of storing quantities of food in the large pouch attached to its lower mandible, for the purpose of feeding its young, which it does by pressing its pouch against its breast, arose the belief that the pelican opened its breast with its bill to feed its young with its own blood—a belief which seemed to derive support from the red at the end of the bill.

Two species of pelican are found on the coast of Syria: the white pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus) and, less frequently, the Dalmatian (P. crispus). In the Talmud the pelican is assumed to be referred to in Ḥul 63a () and Yer. Kil. viii. 6 (), and in other passages. See Goose.

Bibliography:
  • Tristram, Natural History of the Bible, p. 251;
  • Lewysohn, Zoologie des Talmuds, pp. 184, 368.
E. G. H. I. M. C.
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