American White Pelican
Pelecanus erythrorhynchos

ORDER: Pelecaniformes
FAMILY: Pelecanidae


  • Largest bird of the order Pelecaniformes
  • Generally, females somewhat smaller with shorter beak. Females 58 inches long; 11 - 20 lbs.; bill is 11 - 16 inches long.
  • Males 68 inches long; 20 - 33 lbs.; bill is 14 - 18 inches long. Wingspan 88 - 140 inches.

Western North America and Central America

Lakes, marshes, salt bays and beaches

Wild - Fish scooped up in bill
Zoo - Fish, plus thiamine tablet


  • White plumage with yellow spot on breast and wing coverts
  • Adult male distinguished by a disc-like projection on middle upper mandible of the beak, which appears only during breeding season
  • Large body, broad wings, long neck, and gigantic yellow and blue beak tipped with red.
  • Short legs with large webbed feet that have four toes
  • Skin pouch under lower part of beak, with upper mandible serving as flat lid
  • Very small tongue

Floats high on water and carries wings slightly raised; appears clumsy, but because of air in bones and skin, is relatively light bird; sociable bird which flies in small groups or larger flocks

2 - 3 plain, bluish or yellowish eggs incubated 30 - 42 days; young are naked at birth, become sexually mature in 3 - 4 years.

"Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia," Vol. 7, Birds I, Dr. Bernhard Grzimek
"Common Birds of Louisiana," publication of Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, 1985.