The unassuming, yet still lovely, Brown Pelican actually have several claims to distinctiveness. Apparently, one just wasn’t enough for this remarkable animal. Shall we rattle them off?
- It is one of only three of its kind endemic to the Americas.
- They remain one of only two varieties to feed by actually diving into the water.
- It is actually the smallest of all known related species.
Fortunately, their population, unlike numerous other creatures, appears to be stable, and of sufficient number. The IUCN has listed the Brown Pelican as a species of Least Concern.
Brown Pelican Physical Description
Though diminutive for a pelican, the Brown Pelican is still quite a large bird. Their wingspan reaches as much as 8.2 ft (2.5 m). Additionally, they may weigh as much as 12.1 lb (5.5 kg). Their bill grows to as long as 13.7 in (35 cm) in length.
A large gular pouch adjoins the bottom of the bill. This is used for draining water when it grabs its prey.
Their coloring (not surprisingly, given the name) is predominantly shades of brown. There is also gray, black, and white mixed in.
The head is typically white or gray in color. Amazingly, internal air sacs beneath their skin and bones make them extremely buoyant.
Brown Pelican Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The Brown Pelican is endemic to the full length of the coastal regions of North and South America. They appear especially common in the Gulf of Mexico. Younger individuals often stray into inland lakes and waterways.
They also like to inhabit mangrove swamps. This avian is especially gregarious, typically living in large flocks throughout the year.
Though their principal prey is fish, they will occasionally feed on small crustaceans and amphibians. They nest in large colonies, usually on islands or in mangrove swamps.