The brown pelican feeds exclusively on marine fishes and occasional crustaceans by diving into the water head-first from heights of 6 to over 15 meters, capturing up to 4 pounds of prey daily with its long, slender beak (Farrand 1983; USFWS 1995; Harrison 1996). Studies have suggested that the height and angle of these dives vary with the age and skill level of the bird, and dive paths are altered to reduce glare on the surface of the water that may hinder catch success (Carl 1987). The large pouch below the bill acts as dip net to catch prey, but also holds fish for consumption until the water, as much as three gallons, is squeezed out. Once the water is removed, the prey is swallowed. In addition to catching and holding prey, the pouch also serves as a cooling mechanism for the bird in warm weather and a feeding trough for young (USFWS 1995).Predators: Little information is available concerning predators of the brown pelican. Due to their size and long sturdy bill, it is unlikely that adult birds are regularly preyed upon. However, birds of prey, alligators or large mammals could potentially consume eggs and hatchlings.Parasites: Like many other bird species, the brown pelican acts as a terminal or final host for several parasites acquired from a variety of prey items, including the parasitic worms Petagiger sp., Echinochasmus sp., Phagicola longus, Mesostephanus appendiculatoides, Contracaecum multipapillatum, and C. bioccai acquired from the black mullet, Mugil cephalus, the silver mullet, M. curema and other fish prey (Grimes et al. 1989; Zamparo et al. 2005; Mattiucci et al. 2008). Most of these parasites infect the gut, with some imposing minimal negative impacts on the pelican, while others are more virulent or increase the probability of infections by secondary pathogens (e.g. Grimes et al. 1989).
- Carl, RA. 1987. Age-class variation in foraging techniques by brown pelicans. The Condor 89: 525-533.
- FNAI. 2001. Field Guide to the Rare Animals of Florida. Florida Natural Areas Inventory. Online at http://www.fnai.org/fieldguides.cfm (Date accessed 08/07/2010).
- FWCC. 2003. Florida's Breeding Bird Atlas: A Collaborative Study of Florida's Birdlife. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Online at http://www.myfwc.com/bba/ (Date accessed 08/07/2010).
- FWCC. 2009. Florida's endangered species, threatened species, and species of special concern. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Online at http://myfwc.com/WILDLIFEHABITATS/imperiledSpp_index.htm (Date accessed 08/07/2010).
- Farrand Jr., J (Ed.). 1983. The Audubon Society Master Guide to Birding Volume 1: Loons to Sandpipers. Alfred A. Knopf. New York. USA. 447 pp.
- Federal Register. 2009. Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Removal of the Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife; Final Rule. Department of the Interior. Fish and Wildlife Service. Federal Register Vol.17, No. 20. Online at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=2009_register&docid=fr17no09-14 (Date accessed 08/07/2010).
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- Harrison, P. 1996. Seabirds of the World: A Photographic Guide. Princeton Univ. Press. Princeton, NJ. USA. 317 pp.
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- Mattiucci, S, Paoletti, M, Olivero-Verbel, J, Baldiris, R, Arroyo-Salgado, B, Garbin, L, Navone, G & G Nascetti. 2008. Contracaecum bioccai n. sp. from the brown pelican Pelecanus occidentalis (L.) in Columbia (Nematoda: Anisakidae): morphology, molecular evidence and its genetic relationship with congeners from fish-eating birds. Syst. Parasitol. 69: 101-121.
- Peterson, RT. 1980. A Field Guide to the Birds: A Completely New Guide to All the Birds of Eastern and Central North America. Houghton Mifflin. Boston, MA. USA. 384 pp.S
- Schreiber, RW & EA Schreiber. 1983. Use of age-classes in monitoring population stability of brown pelicans. J. Wildl. Manage. 47: 105-111.
- Schreiber, RW & PJ Mock. 1988. Eastern brown pelicans: What does 60 years of banding tell us? J. Field Ornithol. 59: 171-182.
- Terres, JK. 1980. The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds. Alfred A. Knopf. New York. USA. 1109 pp.
- USFWS. Brown Pelican: Endangered Species Success Story. Biologue Series. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
- Zamparo, D, Overstreet, RM & DR Brooks. 2005. A new species of Petasiger (Digenea: Echonostomiformes: Echinostomatidae) in the brown pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, (Aves: Pelecaniformes: Pelecanidae), from the Area de Conservación Guanacaste, Costa Rica. J. Parasitol. 91: 1465-1467.
- chreiber, RW. 1980. Nesting chronology of the eastern brown pelican. The Auk 97: 491-508.
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