Pelican Facts

  • The great white pelican catches about 1.2 kg of fish a day in its large throat pouch.
  • The brown pelican dives from a height of 15 m above the water to catch fish below the surface.
  • Great white pelican breeding colonies may number as many as 30,000 pairs of birds.
  • There are seven species of pelican. Most live and feed around fresh water, but the brown pelican is a seabird.
  • Pelicans are often found in large colonies, particularly during the breeding season.
  • A great white pelican comes in to land on the water.
  • One of the largest pelicans is the Australian pelican, which is up to 180 cm long and weighs about 15 kg.
  • The white pelican lays 1-2 eggs in a nest mound on the ground. Both parents help to incubate the eggs and care for the young.
  • Pelican chicks are able to stand at 3 weeks old and can fly at 7-10 weeks old.
  • In heraldry, a pelican is shown pecking its breast to feed its young on its blood. This may stem from the bird’s habit of resting its beak on its breast.
  • White pelicans work as a group to herd fish into a shoal by swimming around them in a horseshoe formation. Then they scoop up pouchfuls of fish with their large beaks.
  • In flight, a pelican flaps its wings 1.3 times a second. This is one of the slowest wingbeat speeds, when actively flying, of any bird.