white pelican

White Pelican

Pelecanus erythrorhynchos

CLASS Aves | ORDER Pelecaniformes | FAMILY Pelecanidae

RANGE North America and Central America

HABITAT Lakes, marshes, salt bays, and beaches

DIET Mainly fish; also amphibians and crawfish

MALE 20 - 30 lbs
FEMALE 11 - 20 lbs

MALE Avg. 5.6 ft
FEMALE Avg. 4.8 ft

88 - 140 in

30 - 42 days

2 - 3 eggs

IUCN Status
Least Concern
white pelican

These migratory birds breed in inland Canada and the Northern United States. In the spring, they migrate south to the wetlands of the Gulf Coast. The pelican's long bill is orange, with an extendable throat pouch on the underside.

Unlike the brown pelican, the white pelican does not dive for fish. Instead, it dips its head underwater to scoop up its prey. Coordinated flocks of swimming pelicans encircle fish or drive them into shallows waters where they become concentrated and are more easily caught.

white pelican

Although the white pelican is not threatened, many of the breeding colonies in the U.S. and Canada face challenges from habitat loss, pesticide contamination, and water level disturbances.