Pelicans are best known for their famous throat pouch, which they use to catch their prey. Explore this article to know some interesting facts and amazing information on the pelican.

Facts About Pelican

Did you know that Pelicans have been around for over 40 million years? Yes, the earliest Pelican fossils were discovered in an undisclosed location in France. The Pelican is a large water bird that is known for the distinctive pouch it has under its beak. It has long wings, with an unusually large number (30 to 35) of secondary flight feathers. The tail is short and square with 20 to 24 feathers. The bird is found in the countryside all across the world, dwelling mainly near water and densely populated fishing areas. Pelicans are divided into two groups: the first group includes the ones that have white adult plumage and nest on the ground; while the second group includes the ones that have grey or brown plumage and nest on trees or sea rocks. Both the male and female pelicans take turns to incubate the eggs on top of or below the feet. Read on further to know more interesting facts and amazing information on pelicans.
Fast Facts
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Pelecaniformes
Family: Pelecanidae
Genus: Pelecanus
Group Name: Colony
Length: 5.8 ft.
Wingspan: 10 ft.
Weight: 13 kg
Lifespan: 10-25 years
Diet: Carnivore.
Type: Warm-blooded
Status: Endangered
Habitat: Coastlines, lakes and rivers.
Age of Sexual Maturity: 3 years
Gestation Period: 32-35 days
Number of Offspring: 6 eggs
Interesting & Amazing Information On Pelicans
  • Eight different species of pelicans are found in every continent on earth, with the exception of Antarctica.
  • There are eight pelican species - Brown Pelican, Peruvian Pelican, American White Pelican, Great White Pelican, Dalmatian Pelican, Pink-backed Pelican, Spot-billed Pelican and Australian Pelican.
  • The pelican has the ability to draw its pouch to its breast once it has caught its prey. The pouch mainly serves as a collecting organ.
  • During the courtship period, male pelicans try to capture attention by swinging their open bills violently from side to side, threatening other males and may also toss small sticks or fish in the air a couple of times to show off to the females.
  • Pelicans are found in warm coastal marine and estuarine environments, and waterways such as lakes, swamps, rivers, coastal islands and shores.
  • They prefer temperate and warm climates to the cold ones and hence, are mostly found closer to the Equator.
  • Australian Pelican, found along the Australian coastline, is the largest pelican in the world.
  •  Unborn pelicans recognize their parents ever since they are in the egg and have no trouble in recognizing them once they have hatched.
  • The first hatched chick is always given priority and is always slightly bigger in size than its siblings.
  • A female pelican digs makes a nest for her young ones with her feet.
  • Pelicans are known to be barbaric eaters and opportunistic feeders. Sometimes, they even rob other birds of their prey and drown their prey head side down before swallowing them whole. Definitely not for the faint-hearted to see! 
  • Pelican is the state bird ofLouisiana.
  • Brown Pelican is the smallest pelican, the only dark pelican and the only pelican that plunges from the air into the water, to catch its food.
  • White Pelican is bright white in color, with black along the back wing edge and a bright orange bill and pouch.
  • Pelicans mainly feed on fish, crustaceans like prawns and crabs, small species of turtles and squid.
  • Using its beak, a pelican scoops out mouth-full of water and strains it out from its beak, leaving the food behind for it to eat.
  • During the courtship period between two pelicans, the colors of the pouches and the bills change color, much like blushing for humans.
  • Pelicans have very few predators in the natural environment, due to their large size. They fall prey to wild dogs like coyotes, cats and humans for their meat and feathers.
  • Pelicans are colonial breeders.
  • A pelican can hold up to 3 gallons (11 ½ liters) of water in its bill.
  • The male pelicans are slightly larger than their female counterparts.
  • Pelicans have evolved over 40 million years.
  • Just like penguins, the male pelican, helps the female pelican in incubating the eggs.

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