Average lifespan in the wild: 10 to 25 years or more
Size: Body, 5.8 ft (1.8 m);
Wingspan, 10 ft (3 m)
Weight: 30 lbs (13 kg)
The Dalmatian pelican is the largest of its kind, with a wingspan of up to 11.5 feet and a weight of up to 33 pounds. Most pelicans feed off the surface of the water, but the brown pelican (the smallest pelican species) prefers to plunge in the water from as high up as 30 feet to capture its prey.
What does a pelican look like?
There are more than half a dozen species of pelicans, but all of them have the famous throat pouch for which the birds are best known. These large birds use their elastic pouches to catch fish—though different species use it in different ways.
Where do pelicans live?
Pelicans are found on many of the world's coastlines and also along lakes and rivers. They are social birds and typically travel in flocks, often strung out in a line. They also breed in groups called colonies, which typically gather on islands.
What does a pelican eat?
Many pelicans fish by swimming in cooperative groups. They may form a line or a "U" shape and drive fish into shallow water by beating their wings on the surface. When fish congregate in the shallows, the pelicans simply scoop them up. The brown pelican, on the other hand, dives on fish (usually a type of herring called menhaden) from above and snares them in its bill. Pelicans do not store fish in their pouch, but simply use it to catch them and then tip it back to drain out water and swallow the fish immediately. The American white pelican can hold some 3 gallons (11 1/2 liters) of water in its bill. Young pelicans feed by sticking their bills into their parents' throats to retrieve food.
Can pelicans swim?
The pelican, with its large body and elongated bill, looks like it shouldn't be able to get off the ground when in fact it is a strong flier. Pelicans are also excellent swimmers thanks, in part, to their large webbed feet, which help with propulsion and steering. The distinct throat pouch is ideal for catching fish as well as rainwater for drinking.
Did you know this about pelicans?
While most other birds use the skin of their breast to warm eggs, the brown pelican uses its webbed feet — it actually stands on its eggs to keep them warm.
Special fibers in the pelican's breast muscles allow it to hold its wings rigidly horizontal, allowing it to soar through the air with ease. It uses thermals to glide over 100 miles to new feeding areas.
Download free Pelican wallpapers, click on the image to open the large version.
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Pelican Coloring pages
Print free Pelican coloring pages, click on the image to open the large version.