Brown Pelican: Large, unmistakable seabird, gray-brown body, dark brown, pale yellow head and neck, oversized bill. Black legs, webbed feet. Feeds on fish by plunge diving and scooping them up with pouch. Powerful flight alternates flaps with short glides. Flies close to the water in straight line.
Range and Habitat
Brown Pelican: Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf coasts north to Nova Scotia, occasionally found inland. Preferred habitats include sandy coastal beaches and lagoons, waterfronts and pilings, and rocky cliffs.
The Brown Pelican can hold about three gallons of water (and fish) in its pouch. They have air sacks beneath their skin and in their bones that make them very buoyant.
The Brown Pelican incubates its eggs in an unusual manner; it covers them with its webbed feet. This practice was detrimental to the species when the pesticide DDT was in common use. This pesticide caused thinning of the eggshells resulting in so many broken eggs that the species became endangered.
Though adult pelicans may consume as much as four pounds of fish per day, they do not compete with sport or commercial fishermen because of type of fish they eat.
A group of pelicans has many collective nouns, including a "brief", "pod", "pouch", "scoop", and "squadron" of pelicans.