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Pelicans: Pelecanidae

Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Pelicans And People, Brown Pelican (pelecanus Occidentalis): Species AccountsGEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, CONSERVATION STATUS

BROWN PELICAN (Pelecanus occidentalis): SPECIES ACCOUNTS
AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos): SPECIES ACCOUNTS

Pelicans live on every continent except Antarctica. Brown pelicans live mostly along the coasts of North and South America. The other pelicans usually breed inland, and can be found on all continents except South America.


At breeding time, pelicans prefer nesting areas that are undisturbed, with water nearby where there are plenty of fish. Brown pelicans are the only true seabirds in the group, and they live along seacoasts. In general, the other pelicans breed near freshwater lakes and rivers, although they may spend some time in saltwater areas when they are not nesting.


Pelicans eat mainly fish, although they may occasionally take lizards, snakes, birds, small mammals, salamanders, and crayfish. Brown pelicans often catch fish by plunging into the water from the air, while other pelicans usually scoop up fish while swimming.


The spot-billed pelican is listed as Vulnerable, facing a high risk of extinction, and the Dalmatian pelican is close to being threatened. The brown pelican was once listed as Endangered in all of North and South America, but it was removed from the list for Florida and Alabama because it is doing better in those areas.

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Animal Life ResourceBirds