Brown Pelican: Pelecanus occidentalis


Brown pelicans are large, shore-dwelling birds. They reach sizes up to 48 inches long from head to tail, with a 6-7 foot wingspan and a weight of about 8 pounds. They are strong swimmers and graceful fliers, but are rather clumsy when walking on land. They are long-lived, the oldest individual on record died at 43 years of age.


They can be observed along the coasts from North to South America.


Pelicans are fish eating birds. They have excellent eyesight and hunt by searching for schools of small bait fish while flying over the ocean, sometimes from as high as 50 feet. When pelicans see fish they will dive steeply into the water, often submerging completely, and capture the fish in their large throat pouches. Brown Pelicans are the only pelican bird to use this dramatic hunting style.

Pelicans are highly social birds that often congregate in large flocks throughout much of the year. They also breed in large colonies, which may consist of several hundred pairs, nesting in bushes, or in trees, usually on small estuarine islands where they can be free from disturbance from terrestrial predators. Nests are typically little more than a shallow depression built from grass or reeds, over interwoven sticks on supporting tree branches.

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