Characteristics and Behavior:
Brown pelicans are medium to large-sized seabirds recognized by their long, hooked bills and large throat pouches used for catching fish. They have brownish-gray plumage, a white head and neck, and distinct dark markings on their wings. These pelicans are known for their distinctive plunge-diving behavior, where they fly high above the water and suddenly dive headfirst to catch fish in their pouches.
- Brown Pelicans inhabit coastal and estuarine regions of the Americas, ranging from the southern United States to South America, including the Caribbean.
- They prefer coastal habitats like barrier islands, mangroves, and rocky coastlines. You can often spot them near the shore, flying in formation or plunge-diving for fish.
- Brown Pelicans typically live for about 10 to 25 years in the wild.
- Breeding occurs in colonies, where pairs construct nests made of sticks and other materials, usually in trees or on the ground.
- Their reproductive cycle is highly influenced by environmental factors, and they usually lay 2 to 3 eggs. Both parents share incubation and chick-rearing responsibilities.
- Pouch Squeeze: Brown Pelicans have a unique way of expelling water from their pouches after a dive. They tilt their head forward to drain water before swallowing the captured fish.
- Conservation Success: Brown Pelicans were once endangered due to the impacts of the pesticide DDT, which caused the thinning of their eggshells. Thanks to conservation efforts and the banning of DDT, their populations have rebounded, and they were removed from the U.S. Endangered Species List in 2009.
- Prehistoric Lineage: Brown Pelicans belong to one of the oldest bird families, Pelecanidae, with a lineage dating back over 30 million years. They share a common ancestor with other pelican species and are uniquely adapted to their coastal lifestyle.
“Brown Pelican Life History, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology.” , All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, , All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Brown_Pelican/lifehistory.