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Pelican Facts

Scientific NamePelecanus Occidentalis
Size (H)106cm - 183cm (42in - 72in)
Wingspan183cm - 350cm (72in - 138in)
Weight2.7kg - 15kg (6lbs - 33lbs)
Top Speed65km/h (40mph)
Lifespan16 - 23 years
Conservation StatusLeast Concern
ColourBlack, White, Grey
Skin TypeFeathers
Favourite FoodFish
HabitatArid islands and coastal waters
Average Clutch Size6
Main PreyFish, Crabs, Turtles
PredatorsHuman, Cat, Coyote
Distinctive FeaturesPouch hanging from underside of beak and keen eyesight

Pelican Location

Map of Pelican Locations


The pelican is a large bird that is most well known for the pouch that the pelican has in its beak which the pelican uses to scoop fish out if the water. The pelican is found in the countryside worldwide, dwelling near water and densely populated fishing areas.

The brown sea pelican is one of the largest species of pelican with male pelicans often leaving the flock to hunt alone at sea. The brown pelican is particularly remarkable for its ability to swoop down to the ocean surface from enormous heights to catch fish.

The pelican is generally an enormous bird with some species gaining a wingspan of well over 3meters. Other species of pelican are much smaller but these smaller species of pelican tend to live on land rather than spending their lives at sea.

There are eight different species of pelican found on every continent in the world with the exception of the Antarctic. Pelicans tend to prefer the more temperate and warmer climates to the colder ones, and pelicans are therefore most commonly found closer to the Equator.

Despite the fact that pelicans are omnivorous birds, pelicans mainly feed on fish, crustaceans such as prawns and crabs, small species of turtle and squid. The pelican uses it's beak pouch to scoop a mouth-full of water up and then strains the water out of its beak leaving the food (such as fish) behind for the pelican to eat.

During the breeding season, pelicans nest in colonies and breeding usually begins with a group of male pelicans chasing a single female pelican. The pelican courtship can occur on land, in the air or on water. The male pelican collects materials to build the nest which the female pelican then uses to build the nest either on the ground or in a tree depending on the pelican species.

The female pelican lays an average clutch size of 2 eggs which both the female pelican and the male pelican help to incubate. After an incubation period of around a month, the pelican chicks hatch out of their eggs but often, only one pelican chick will survive out of the two. The female pelican feeds her young until they are around 3 months old, although baby pelicans are usually able to walk and swim when they are about 2 months old.

Due to their generally large size, pelicans have few predators in their natural environment. Wild dogs such as coyotes are one of the main predators of the pelican along with cats and humans who hunt the pelican for their meat and feathers.

Pelicans inhabit areas around the world usually in large flocks of more than 100 birds. Pelicans rest and nest together in these communities but often hunt and feed alone with the exception of the female pelican feeding her pelican chicks. The pelican chicks are known to gather together in small groups within the communal nesting site of their parents.