card
201

brown pelican

OLogy Series
animal
card
201

brown pelican

OLogy Series
animal

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 pelicans are very social birds. They live in groups throughout the year. A group of pelicans is called a:

flock

colony

pod

Are you right?

Correct!

A group of pelicans is called a flock. Flocks can be seen flying in a "V" pattern or in straight lines. Birds flock together because there is safety in numbers. Many birds also stay together because they are social animals.

A brown pelican's pouch holds about as much as its stomach.

Fact
or
Fiction
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Fiction

A brown pelican's pouch can actually hold about three times as much as its stomach -- that's about three gallons of fish and water.

Once brown pelicans mate, the male leaves the nest.

Fact
or
Fiction
?

Fiction

Both the male and female pelicans sit on the eggs until they hatch. Both parents also help feed the young once they hatch.

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: courtesy of NOAA.