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A pelican, derived from the Greek word pelekys (meaning “axe” and applied to birds that cut wood with their bills or beaks) is a large water bird with a large throat pouch, belonging to the bird family Pelecanidae.

Modern pelicans, of which there are eight species, are found on all continents except Antarctica. They primarily inhabit warm regions.


Pelican are large social water fowl.

Pelican Classification:

Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Pelecaniformes
Family: Pelecanidae
Genus: Pelecanus

Other Names:

Pelican in Foreign Languages:

English: Pelican
Afrikaans: pelikaan
Albanian: pelikan
Azerbaijani: qutan
Basque: pelican
Catalan: pelicŕ
Croatian: pelikan
Czech: pelikán
Danish: Pelican
Dutch: pelikaan
Estonian: pelikan
Filipino: pelikano
Finnish: pelikaani
French: pélican
Galician: Pelican
German: Pelikan
Haitian Creole: Pelican
Hungarian: pelikán
Icelandic: Pelican
Indonesian: Pelican
Irish: soilse
Italian: pellicano
Latvian: pelikans
Lithuanian: pelikanas
Malay: Pelican
Maltese: pellikan
Norwegian: Pelican
Polish: pelikan
Portugese: pelicano
Romanian: pelican
Slovak: pelikán
Slovenian: pelikan
Spanish: pelícano
Swahilii: Mwari
Swedish: pelikan
Turkish: pelikan
Welsh: pelican


Conservation Status: Brown Pelican is Endangered
Some species are Vulnerable

Species: There are eight living pelican species.

Pelican Species:

Brown Pelican - Pelecanus occidentalis
Peruvian Pelican - Pelecanus thagus
Spot-billed Pelican - Pelecanus philippensis
Pink-backed Pelican - Pelecanus rufescens
American White Pelican - Pelecanus erythrorhynchos
Great White Pelican - Pelecanus onocrotalus
Dalmatian Pelican - Pelecanus crispus
Australian Pelican - Pelecanus conspicillatus

Size: Pelicans have a body length of approximately 5.8 feet, and their wingspan can reach up to 10 feet. Pelicans can weigh up to 30 lbs.

Habitat: Pelicans are found on every continent except for Antarctica. Pelicans frequent inland and coastal waters.

Description: Pelicans are large sea birds. Pelicans have a large body, short legs, and large webbed feet. Pelicans have a distinctive throat pouch.

Diet: Pelicans feed primarily on fish. Pelicans will often work together to capture fish. Pelicans will also eat crustaceans such as prawns and crabs, small species of turtle and squid.

Incubation: Pelicans eggs will hatch after 28 to 36 days.

Did You Know?

Pelicans will gather with other types of water fowl like cormorants.

Birth: Pelicans build ground nests. Pelicans will lay 1 to 3 eggs at a time. Pelican chicks have a high mortality rate usually only one in two will survive.

Sexually Mature: Pelicans sexually mature between 2.5 and 3 years of age.

Life Span: Pelicans typically live 10-25 years of age.

Did You Know?

Some species of pelicans bill can hold up to 3 gallons of water!

Social Structure: Pelicans are highly social birds. Flocks of pelicans can contain up to 100 birds.

Pelican Gifts




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