Brown Pelican is the only of the seven species of
pelicans in the world that is dark in coloration.
The adult male pelican is mostly shiny brown with
a dark red neck, white face and head. It has a conspicuous
white eye, a short tail and webbed feet. The pelican
has a huge bill and an extensible pouch. The pouch
of eastern birds is greenish in color, while those
of western birds are reddish. Females are identical
to males but are slightly smaller. Immature pelicans
have a white neck rather than a dark red one. Brown
Pelicans can reach lengths of three and a half feet.
Wing spans can be nearly eight feet long.
sight of a hunting Brown Pelican can be breathtaking.
Brown Pelicans plunge headfirst into the ocean for
fish. After the dive, the bird drains excess water
from the sides of the bill and swallows the fish
remaining in the pouch. Occasionally, gulls may
try to steal the fish directly from the pelican's
Range: The Brown Pelican is found along the Atlantic and
Gulf Coasts of the United States north to southern
Virginia. Largest populations occur in the Gulf
Coast region. A population of Brown Pelicans also
exists on the Pacific Coast of California. Brown
Pelicans are also found in coastal regions of the
West Indies, Mexico, Central America, and northwestern
Brown Pelican is strictly coastal and occurs in
warm salt water regions.
Nesting: Pelicans build large,
bulky nests in small trees, shrubs, or, on the ground.
Brown Pelicans often nest in colonies of other pelicans,
cormorants, and herons. Females lay 1-3 whitish-colored
eggs after an incubation period of one month. The
eggs are incubated under the webbed feet of the
adult birds. Young pelicans will leave the nest
in two to three months. Pelicans regurgitate food
to feed to their young.
Status: Although populations
of the Brown Pelican were once decimated by the
pesticide DDT, recovery efforts and the banning
of the chemical have been successful. Today, Brown
Pelicans are once again common.
Brown Pelican Video