brown pelican

This large dark bird is unmistakable soaring in the air along the coast. With about a seven-foot wingspan, it flies gracefully above the water, then dives into the sea with a clumsy splash, searching for its next meal. But the brown pelican is even more noticeable perched on a pier: its long bill is typically as big as (if not bigger than) its head. The most recognizable feature of this bird is the bulging pouch that hangs under its bill.

brown pelican
Scientific name: Pelecanus occidentalis
Size: four feet long
Weight: eight pounds
Habitat: along the coasts of North and South America
Diet: fish
Characteristics: long bill, enormous pouch, brown and white feathers

Image credits: main image, courtesy of NOAA.