The seven or eight species in the genus Pelecanus (the sole genus in the family Pelecanidae) are all commonly known as pelicans. Pelicans are found throughout most tropical and temperate regions around the world. All pelicans are large birds with broad wings and a distensible pouch. These are social birds that breed, feed, and fly in groups. They take 3 to 4 years to reach maturity. Most species fish together in small flocks, driving fish from deeper water into shallows and submerging their open bills to scoop up fish. Pelicans are generally very sensitive to human disturbance and will desert eggs easily.
The Great White Pelican (P. onocrotalus) is restricted to the Old World, where its distribution overlaps that of the Dalmatian and Pink-backed Pelicans. It has a patchy breeding distribution from the eastern Mediterranean to Southeast Asia and is resident in Africa from Mauritania and Ethiopia south to South Africa. This is the second largest of the world's pelicans. Great White Pelicans are found mainly around fresh or brackish water (sometimes marine in Africa) and are gregarious throughout the year.
The Pink-backed Pelican (P. rufescens) is found in subtropical and tropical Africa, where it overlaps in range with the larger Great White Pelican. The Pink-backed Pelican occurs throughout Africa south of the Sahara (formerly including Madagascar) and north to around 25 N in the Red Sea. Unlike the Great White Pelican, it often roosts in trees. The Pink-backed Pelican breeds colonially, mainly around freshwater, and is gregarious throughout the year.
The relatively small Spot-billed Pelican (P. philippensis) occurs in Asia, overlapping in range with the larger Great White and Dalmatian Pelicans (this taxon has sometimes been treated as conspecific with the Dalmatian Pelican, with whose range it overlaps on the Indian subcontinent in winter). It once bred widely in southern Asia, but breeding may now be restricted to India, Sri Lanka, and Cambodia. Like most pelican species, Spot-billed Pelicans spend most of their time around fresh or brackish water. They breeds colonially and are gregarious throughout the year.
The Dalmatian Pelican (P. crispus) is the largest Eurasian pelican and is now an endangered species. Its range overlaps with that of the Great White and Pink-backed Pelicans. Dalmatian Pelicans breed colonially on freshwater lakes and are gregarious throughout the year. Dalmatian Pelicans are the largest of the pelicans, although they are more slender than Great White Pelicans. They breed in southeastern Europe east through the Black and Caspian Seas, China and Mongolia, and southern Iran.
The Australian Pelican (P. conspicillatus) breeds in Australia, where it is the only pelican species. Australian Pelicans breed colonially (mainly at freshwater sites, but also marine) and are gregarious throughout the year.
The American White Pelican (P. erythrorhynchus) is restricted to inland North America, where it is the only black and white pelican (the other North American pelican being the Brown Pelican). It is associated mainly with freshwater, especially during the breeding season, when it nests in colonies on islands in inland lakes, whereas the Brown Pelican is a coastal marine species. American White Pelicans typically fish by working in a small group to drive fish into the shallows, then swimming and scooping them up in their bills (Brown Pelicans take plunging dives to grab fish out of the water).
The Brown Pelican (P. occidentalis) is found locally along both coasts of the United States (extending much farther north along the west coast) to northern South America. It breeds colonially and is gregarious throughout the year. The Peruvian Pelican (P. thagus), which breeds in western South America along the coasts of Peru and Chile, is sometimes treated as conspecific with the Brown Pelican.The Brown Pelican and Peruvian Pelican are the only truly marine pelicans.
(Harrison 1983, 1987; Elliott 1992)
- Harrison, P. 1983. Seabirds: an Identification Guide. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
- Harrison, P. 1987. A Field Guide to Seabirds of the World. The Stephen Greene Press, Lexington, Massachusetts.
- Elliott, A. 1992. Pelecanidae (Pelicans). Pp. 290-311 in: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., and Sargatal, J., eds. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 1. Ostrich to Ducks. Lynx edicions, Barcelona.
- Brown, L.H., E.K. Urban & K. Newman (1982). The Birds of Africa, Volume I. Academic Press, London.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 1055 samples.
Depth range (m): 0 - 0
Temperature range (°C): 12.220 - 27.601
Nitrate (umol/L): 0.240 - 3.951
Salinity (PPS): 30.381 - 36.362
Oxygen (ml/l): 4.518 - 6.395
Phosphate (umol/l): 0.101 - 0.674
Silicate (umol/l): 0.868 - 16.169
Temperature range (°C): 12.220 - 27.601
Nitrate (umol/L): 0.240 - 3.951
Salinity (PPS): 30.381 - 36.362
Oxygen (ml/l): 4.518 - 6.395
Phosphate (umol/l): 0.101 - 0.674
Silicate (umol/l): 0.868 - 16.169
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.
Known prey organisms
Based on studies in:
This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
- H. W. Koepcke and M. Koepcke, Sobre el proceso de transformacion de la materia organica en las playas arenosas marinas del Peru. Publ. Univ. Nac. Mayer San Marcos, Zoologie Serie A, No. 8, from p. 24 (1952).
Evolution and Systematics
The gular pouch the pelican dissipates heat by having a vascular structure.
"The gular pouch is used for prey capture in the pelicans, courtship displays in the frigatebirds, and thermoregulation in most species.2 Blood flow to the pouch of the pelican is supplied through midline vessels that send branches laterally and through subramal vessels that send branches medially into the gular sac.11 The inner and outer surfaces of the gular sac are covered with squamous epithelium, with a highly vascular muscular layer between.11,20" (Fowler and Miller 2003: 118)
Learn more about this functional adaptation.
- Fowler, ME; Miller, RE. 2003. Zoo and Wild Animal Medicine. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Co.
Pelicans flying in groups adjust their spacing to minimize wind resistance.
"Then, as they bend their flight in the direction of their quest, one or two pelicans at one end of their formation will bump up, bounced higher by the spinning air column. Those birds will dip their wingtip away from the rest of the formation and roll toward the rising impetus. The other birds follow along in trail, pealing off one behind the next, the entire group rolling into the rising thermal and closing together to conform to the narrow cylinder of spinning wind at the center.
As they spiral higher, the air cushioning their ascent chills around them, expanding with the height. Near the apex of the rising column the birds feel an abrupt loss of buoyancy where the vertical currents flare apart like the bell of an upturned trumpet. Still, the birds stay with the spiral bloom of wind for a final half turn, until they are pointed once again toward their chosen destination--a pass through the mountains just now coming visible on the far horizon. Finally, they drop off the top of the virtual carousel and fall behind one another. They adjust their spacing to minimize the wind resistance by riding close behind each other. Buoyed by the central updrafts of floating ring vortices, the pelicans can glide in a gentle descent across hundreds of miles of terrain each day." (Daubert 2006:123-124)
Learn more about this functional adaptation.
- Stephen Daubert. 2006. Threads from the Web of Life: Stories in Natural History. Vanderbilt University Press. 162 p.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Statistics of barcoding coverage
|Specimen Records:||37||Public Records:||30|
|Specimens with Sequences:||33||Public Species:||8|
|Specimens with Barcodes:||32||Public BINs:||8|
|Species With Barcodes:||8|
Pelicans are a genus of large water birds comprising the family Pelecanidae. They are characterised by a long beak and large throat pouch used for catching prey and draining water from the scooped up contents before swallowing. They have predominantly pale plumage, the exceptions being the Brown and Peruvian Pelicans. The bills, pouches and bare facial skin of all species become brightly coloured before the breeding season. The eight living pelican species have a patchy global distribution, ranging latitudinally from the tropics to the temperate zone, though they are absent from interior South America as well as from polar regions and the open ocean. Fossil evidence of pelicans dates back at least 30 million years, to the remains of a beak very similar to that of modern species recovered from Oligocene strata in France.
Long thought to be related to frigatebirds, cormorants, tropicbirds, gannets and boobies, pelicans are now known instead to be most closely related to the Shoebill and Hamerkop, and are placed in the order Pelecaniformes. Ibises, spoonbills and herons are more distant relatives, and have been classified in the same order. Pelicans frequent inland and coastal waters where they feed principally on fish, catching them at or near the water surface. Gregarious birds, they often hunt cooperatively and breed colonially. Four white-plumaged species tend to nest on the ground, and four brown or grey-plumaged species nest mainly in trees.
The relationship between pelicans and people has often been contentious. The birds have been persecuted because of their perceived competition with commercial and recreational fishers. They have suffered from habitat destruction, disturbance and environmental pollution, and three species are of conservation concern. They also have a long history of cultural significance in mythology, and in Christian and heraldic iconography.
- 1 Taxonomy and systematics
- 2 Description
- 3 Distribution and habitat
- 4 Behaviour and ecology
- 5 Status and conservation
- 6 Mythology and popular culture
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Taxonomy and systematics
The genus Pelecanus was first formally described by Linnaeus in 1758, in the tenth edition of his Systema Naturae. He described the distinguishing characteristics as a straight bill hooked at the tip, linear nostrils, a bare face, and fully webbed feet. This early definition included frigatebirds, cormorants, and sulids as well as pelicans. The name comes from the Ancient Greek word pelekan (πελεκάν), which is itself derived from the word pelekys (πελεκυς) meaning "axe". In classical times, the word was applied to both the pelican and the woodpecker.
Pelicans give their name to the Pelecaniformes, an order which has had a varied taxonomic history. Tropicbirds, darters, cormorants, gannets, boobies and frigatebirds, all traditional members of the order, have since been reclassified: tropicbirds into their own order, Phaethontiformes, and the remainder into Suliformes. In their place, herons, ibises, spoonbills, the Hamerkop and the Shoebill have now been transferred into Pelecaniformes. Molecular evidence suggests that the Shoebill and the Hamerkop form a sister group to the pelicans, though there is some doubt as to the exact relationship between the three lineages.
The fossil record shows that the pelican lineage has existed for at least 30 million years; the oldest known pelican fossil was found in Early Oligocene deposits at the Luberon in southeastern France and is remarkably similar to modern forms. Its beak is almost complete and is morphologically identical to that of present day pelicans, showing that this advanced feeding apparatus was already in existence at the time. An Early Miocene fossil has been named Miopelecanus gracilis on the basis of certain features originally considered unique but later thought to lie within the range of inter-specific variation in Pelecanus. The Late Eocene Protopelicanus may be a pelecaniform or suliform – or a similar aquatic bird such as a pseudotooth (Pelagornithidae). The supposed Miocene pelican Liptornis from Patagonia is a nomen dubium (of doubtful validity), being based on fragments providing insufficient evidence to support a valid description.
- Pelecanus cadimurka, Rich & van Tets, 1981 (Late Pliocene, South Australia)
- Pelecanus cautleyi, Davies, 1880 (Early Pliocene, Siwalik Hills, India)
- Pelecanus fraasi, Lydekker, 1891 (Middle Miocene, Bavaria, Germany)
- Pelecanus gracilis, Milne-Edwards, 1863 (Early Miocene, France) (see: Miopelecanus)
- Pelecanus halieus, Wetmore, 1933 (Late Pliocene, Idaho, USA)
- Pelecanus intermedius, Fraas, 1870 (Middle Miocene, Bavaria, Germany) (transferred to Miopelecanus by Cheneval in 1984)
- Pelecanus odessanus, Widhalm, 1886 (Late Miocene, near Odessa, Ukraine)
- Pelecanus schreiberi, Olson, 1999 (Early Pliocene, North Carolina, USA)
- Pelecanus sivalensis, Davies, 1880 (Early Pliocene, Siwalik Hills, India)
- Pelecanus tirarensis, Miller, 1966 (Late Oligocene to Middle Miocene, South Australia)
The eight living pelican species can be divided into two groups, one containing four ground-nesters with mainly white adult plumage (Australian, Dalmatian, Great White, and American White Pelicans), and one containing four grey or brown plumaged species which nest preferentially either in trees (Pink-backed, Spot-billed and Brown Pelicans), or on sea rocks (Peruvian Pelican). The largely marine Brown and Peruvian Pelicans, formerly considered conspecific, are sometimes separated from the others by placement in the subgenus Leptopelicanus but in fact it seems that while there are two main evolutionary lineages, species with both sorts of appearance and nesting behavior are found in either; the Great White Pelican seems to be the most distinct species, pointing to an Old World origin of the genus. Thus, Leptopelicanus (if valid) would include the American White Pelican too. The Dalmatian Pelican was considered to be a subspecies of the Spot-billed, though it differs in both nesting habits and morphology; it is now accepted as a full species.
|Living species of Pelecanus|
|Common and binomial names||Image||Description||Range and status|
|Length up to 1.4 m (4.6 ft), wingspan 2–2.3 m (6.6–7.5 ft), weight 3.6–4.5 kg (7.9–9.9 lb). Smallest pelican; distinguished by brown plumage; feeds by plunge-diving.||Five subspecies. Coastal distribution ranging from North America and the Caribbean to northern South America and the Galapagos. Status: Least Concern.|
|Length up to 1.52 m (5.0 ft), wingspan 2.48 m (8.1 ft), average weight 7 kg (15 lb). Dark with a white stripe from the crown down the sides of the neck.||Monotypic. Pacific Coast of South America from Ecuador and Peru south through to southern Chile. Status: Near Threatened.|
|Length 1.27–1.52 m (4.2–5.0 ft), wingspan 2.5 m (8.2 ft), weight approx. 5 kg (11 lb). Mainly grey-white all over, with a grey hindneck crest in breeding season, pinkish rump and spotted bill pouch.||Monotypic. Southern Asia from southern Pakistan across India east to Indonesia; extinct in the Philippines and possibly eastern China. Status: Near Threatened.|
|Length 1.25–1.32 m (4.1–4.3 ft), wingspan 2.65–2.9 m (8.7–9.5 ft), weight 3.9–7 kg (8.6–15.4 lb). Grey and white plumage, occasionally pinkish on the back, with a yellow upper mandible and grey pouch.||Monotypic. Africa, Seychelles and southwestern Arabia; extinct in Madagascar. Status: Least Concern.|
|American White Pelican|
|Length 1.3–1.8 m (4.3–5.9 ft), wingspan 2.44–2.9 m (8.0–9.5 ft), weight 5–9 kg (10–20 lb). Plumage almost entirely white, except for black primary and secondary remiges only visible in flight.||Monotypic. Inland North America, wintering in Mexico. Status: Least Concern.|
|Great White Pelican|
|Length 1.40–1.75 m (4.6–5.7 ft), wingspan 2.45–2.95 m (8.0–9.7 ft), weight 10–11 kg (22–24 lb). Plumage white, with pink facial patch and legs.||Monotypic. Patchy distribution from eastern Mediterranean east to Indochina and Malay Peninsula, and south to South Africa. Status: Least Concern.|
|Length 1.60–1.80 m (5.2–5.9 ft), wingspan 2.70–3.20 m (8.9–10.5 ft), weight 10–12 kg (22–26 lb). Largest pelican; differs from Great White Pelican in having curly nape feathers, grey legs and greyish-white plumage.||Monotypic. South-eastern Europe to India and China. Status: Vulnerable.|
|Length 1.60–1.90 m (5.2–6.2 ft), wingspan 2.5–3.4 m (8.2–11.2 ft), weight 4–8.2 kg (8.8–18.1 lb). Predominantly white with black along primaries and very large, pale pink bill.||Monotypic. Australia and New Guinea; vagrant to New Zealand, Solomons, Bismarck Archipelago, Fiji and Wallacea. Status: Least Concern.|
Pelicans are very large birds with very long bills characterised by a downcurved hook at the end of the upper mandible, and the attachment of a huge gular pouch to the lower. The slender rami of the lower bill and the flexible tongue muscles form the pouch into a basket for catching fish and, sometimes, rainwater, though in order not to hinder the swallowing of large fish, the tongue itself is tiny. They have a long neck and short stout legs with large, fully webbed feet. Although they are among the heaviest of flying birds, they are relatively light for their apparent bulk because of air pockets in the skeleton and beneath the skin enabling them to float high in the water. The tail is short and square. The wings are long and broad, suitably shaped for soaring and gliding flight, and have the unusually large number of 30 to 35 secondary flight feathers.
Males are generally larger than females and have longer bills. The smallest species is the Brown Pelican, small individuals of which can be no more than 2.75 kg (6.1 lb) and 1.06 m (3.5 ft) long, with a wingspan of as little as 1.83 m (6.0 ft). The largest is believed to be the Dalmatian, at up to 15 kg (33 lb) and 1.83 m (6.0 ft) in length, with a maximum wingspan of 3 m (9.8 ft). The Australian Pelican's bill may grow up to 0.5 m (1.6 ft) long in large males, the longest of any bird.
Pelicans have mainly light-coloured plumage, the exceptions being the Brown and Peruvian Pelicans. The bills, pouches and bare facial skin of all species become brighter before breeding season commences. The throat pouch of the Californian subspecies of the Brown Pelican turns bright red, and fades to yellow after the eggs are laid, while the throat pouch of the Peruvian Pelican turns blue. The American White Pelican grows a prominent knob on its bill that is shed once females have laid eggs. The plumage of immature pelicans is darker than that of adults. Newly hatched chicks are naked and pink, darkening to grey or black after 4 to 14 days, then developing a covering of white or grey down.
Anatomical dissections of two Brown Pelicans in 1939 showed that pelicans have a network of subcutaneous air sacs under their skin situated across the ventral surface including the throat, breast and undersides of the wings, as well as having air sacs in their bones. The air sacs are connected to the airways of the respiratory system, and the pelican can keep its air sacs inflated by closing its glottis, but it is not clear how air sacs are inflated. The air sacs serve to keep the pelican remarkably buoyant in the water and may also cushion the impact of the pelican's body on the water surface when they dive from flight into water to catch fish. Superficial air sacs may also help to round body contours (especially over the abdomen where surface protuberances may be caused by viscera changing size and position) to enable the overlying feathers to form more effective heat insulation and also to enable feathers to be held in position for good aerodynamics.
Distribution and habitat
Modern pelicans are found on all continents except Antarctica. They primarily inhabit warm regions, although breeding ranges extend to latitudes of 45° South (Australian Pelicans in Tasmania) and 60° North (American White Pelicans in western Canada). Birds of inland and coastal waters, they are absent from polar regions, the deep ocean, oceanic islands (except the Galapagos), and inland South America, as well as from the eastern coast of South America from the mouth of the Amazon River southwards. Subfossil bones have been recovered from as far south as New Zealand's South Island, although their scarcity and isolated occurrence suggests that these remains may have merely been vagrants from Australia (much as is the case today).
Behaviour and ecology
Pelicans swim well with their strong legs and their webbed feet. They rub the backs of their heads on their preen glands to pick up an oily secretion, which they transfer to their plumage to waterproof it. Holding their wings only loosely against their bodies, pelicans float with relatively little of their bodies below the water surface. They dissipate excess heat by gular flutter – rippling the skin of the throat and pouch with the bill open to promote evaporative cooling. They roost and loaf communally on beaches, sandbanks and in shallow water.
A fibrous layer deep in the breast muscles can hold the wings rigidly horizontal for gliding and soaring. Thus they use thermals for soaring to heights of 3000 m (10,000 ft) or more, combined both with gliding and with flapping flight in V-formation, to commute distances of up to 150 km (93 mi) to feeding areas. Pelicans also fly low (or "skim") over stretches of water, using a phenomenon known as ground effect to reduce drag and increase lift. As the air flows between the wings and the water surface it is compressed to a higher density and exerts a stronger upward force against the bird above. Hence substantial energy is saved while flying.
Adult pelicans rely on visual displays and behaviour to communicate, particularly using their wings and bills. Agonistic behaviour consists of thrusting and snapping at opponents with their bills, or lifting and waving their wings in a threatening manner. Adult pelicans grunt when at the colony, but are generally silent elsewhere or outside breeding season. Conversely, colonies are noisy as chicks vocalise extensively.
The diet of pelicans usually consists of fish, which can be up to 30 cm (1 ft) long, but amphibians, turtles, crustaceans and occasionally birds are also eaten. Aquatic prey is most commonly taken at or near the water surface. In deep water, white pelicans often fish alone. Nearer the shore, several will encircle schools of small fish or form a line to drive them into the shallows, beating their wings on the water surface and then scooping up the prey. They catch multiple small fish by expanding the throat pouch, which must be drained above the water surface before swallowing. This operation takes up to a minute, during which time other seabirds may steal the fish.
Large fish are caught with the bill-tip, then tossed up in the air to be caught and slid into the gullet head-first. A gull will sometimes stand on the pelican's head, peck it to distraction, and grab a fish from the open bill. Pelicans in their turn sometimes snatch prey from other waterbirds.
The Brown Pelican usually plunge-dives for its prey, especially for anchovies and menhaden. Although principally a fish eater, the Australian Pelican is also an eclectic and opportunistic scavenger and carnivore that forages in landfill sites as well as taking carrion and "anything from insects and small crustaceans to ducks and small dogs". Food is not stored in a pelican's throat pouch, contrary to popular folklore.
Consumption of other birds by pelicans is rare, although Great White Pelicans have been observed swallowing pigeons in St. James's Park in London. Spokeswoman for the Royal Parks Louise Wood opined that feeding on other birds is more likely with captive pelicans that live in a semi-urban environment and are in constant close contact with humans, However, in the Western Cape region of South Africa, biologist Marta de Ponte recorded the same species eating Cape Gannet chicks on Malgas Island as well as Cape Cormorants, Crowned Cormorants, Kelp Gulls, Greater Crested Terns and African Penguins on Dassen Island and elsewhere. Brown Pelicans have been reported preying on young Common Murres in California as well as the eggs and nestlings of Cattle Egrets and nestling Great Egrets in Baja California, Mexico.
Breeding and lifespan
Pelicans are gregarious and nest colonially. Pairs are monogamous for a single season, but the pair bond extends only to the nesting area; mates are independent away from the nest. The ground-nesting (white) species have a complex communal courtship involving a group of males chasing a single female in the air, on land, or in the water while pointing, gaping, and thrusting their bills at each other. They can finish the process in a day. The tree-nesting species have a simpler process in which perched males advertise for females. The location of the breeding colony is constrained by the availability of an ample supply of fish to eat, although pelicans can use thermals to soar and commute for hundreds of kilometres daily to fetch food.
The Australian Pelican has two reproductive strategies depending on the local degree of environmental predictability. Colonies of tens or hundreds, rarely thousands, of birds breed regularly on small coastal and subcoastal islands where food is seasonally or permanently available. In arid inland Australia, especially in the endorheic Lake Eyre basin, pelicans will breed opportunistically in very large numbers of up to 50,000 pairs, when irregular major floods, which may be many years apart, fill ephemeral salt lakes and provide large amounts of food for several months before drying out again.
In all species copulation takes place at the nest site; it begins shortly after pairing and continues for 3–10 days before egg-laying. The male brings the nesting material, in ground-nesting species (which may not build a nest) sometimes in the pouch, and in tree-nesting species crosswise in the bill. The female then heaps the material up to form a simple structure.
The eggs are oval, white and coarsely textured. All species normally lay at least two eggs; the usual clutch size is one to three, rarely up to six. Both sexes incubate with the eggs on top of or below the feet; they may display when changing shifts. Incubation takes 30–36 days; hatching success for undisturbed pairs can be as high as 95 percent but, because of sibling competition or siblicide, in the wild usually all but one nestling dies within the first few weeks (later in the Pink-backed and Spot-billed species). Both parents feed their young. Small chicks are fed by regurgitation; after about a week they are able to put their heads into their parent’s pouch and feed themselves. Sometimes before, or especially after, being fed, they may seem to have a seizure that ends in falling unconscious; the reason is not clearly known.
Parents of ground-nesting species sometimes drag older young around roughly by the head before feeding them. From about 25 days old, the young of these species gather in "pods" or "crèches" of up to 100 birds in which parents recognise and feed only their own offspring. By 6–8 weeks they wander around, occasionally swimming, and may practise communal feeding. Young of all species fledge 10–12 weeks after hatching. They may remain with their parents afterwards, but are now seldom or never fed. They are mature at three or four years old. Overall breeding success is highly variable. Pelicans live for 15 to 25 years in the wild, although one reached an age of 54 years in captivity.
Status and conservation
Globally, pelican populations are adversely affected by four main factors: declining supplies of fish through overfishing or water pollution, destruction of habitat, direct effects of human activity such as disturbance at nesting colonies, hunting and culling, entanglement in fishing lines and hooks, and lastly the presence of pollutants such as DDT and endrin. Most species' populations are more or less stable, although three are classified by the IUCN as being at risk. All species breed readily in zoos, which is potentially useful for conservation management.
The combined population of Brown and Peruvian Pelicans is estimated at 650,000 birds, with around 250,000 in the United States and Caribbean, and 400,000 in Peru.[a] The National Audubon Society estimates the global population of the Brown Pelican at 300,000. Numbers of Brown Pelican plummeted in the 1950s and 1960s, largely as a consequence of environmental DDT pollution, and the species was listed as endangered in the US in 1970. With restrictions on DDT use in the US from 1972, its population has recovered, and it was delisted in 2009.
The Peruvian Pelican is listed as Near Threatened because, although the population is estimated by BirdLife International to exceed 500,000 mature individuals, and is possibly increasing, it has been much higher in the past. It declined dramatically during the 1998 El Niño event and could suffer similar declines in the future. Conservation needs include regular monitoring throughout the range to determine population trends, particularly after El Niño years; restricting human access to important breeding colonies; and assessing interactions with fisheries.
The Spot-billed Pelican has an estimated population between 13,000 and 18,000 and is considered to be Near Threatened in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Numbers declined substantially during the 20th century, one crucial factor being the eradication of the important Sittaung valley breeding colony in Burma through deforestation and the loss of feeding sites. The chief threats it faces are from habitat loss and human disturbance but populations have mostly stabilised following increased protection in India and Cambodia.
The Pink-backed Pelican has a large population ranging over much of Sub-Saharan Africa. In the absence of substantial threats or evidence of declines across its range, its conservation status is assessed as being of Least Concern. Regional threats include the drainage of wetlands and increasing disturbance in southern Africa. The species is susceptible to bioaccumulation of toxins and to the destruction of nesting trees by logging.
The American White Pelican has increased in numbers, with its population estimated at over 157,000 birds in 2005, becoming more numerous east of the continental divide while declining in the west. However it is unclear whether its numbers have been affected by exposure to pesticides as it has also suffered from loss of habitat through wetland drainage and competition with recreational use of lakes and rivers.
Great White Pelicans range over a large area of Africa and southern Asia. The overall trend in numbers is uncertain, with a mix of regional populations that are increasing, declining, stable or unknown, but there is no evidence of rapid overall decline and the status of the species is assessed as being of Least Concern. Threats include the drainage of wetlands, persecution and sport hunting, disturbance at the breeding colonies, and contamination by pesticides and heavy metals.
The Dalmatian Pelican is the rarest species with a population estimated at between 10,000 and 20,000 following massive declines in the 19th and 20th centuries. The main ongoing threats include hunting, especially in eastern Asia, disturbance, coastal development, collision with overhead power lines and the over-exploitation of fish stocks. It is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as the population trend is downwards, especially in Mongolia where it is nearly extinct. However, several colonies are increasing in size and the colony at the Small Prespa Lake in Greece has nearly 1000 breeding pairs.
Widespread across Australia, the Australian Pelican has a population generally estimated at between 300,000 and 500,000 individuals. Overall population numbers fluctuate widely and erratically depending on wetland conditions and breeding success across the continent. The species is assessed as being of Least Concern.
Culling and disturbance
Pelicans have been persecuted by humans for their perceived competition for fish, despite the fact that their diet overlaps little with fish caught by people. Starting in the 1880s, American White Pelicans were clubbed and shot, their eggs and young were deliberately destroyed, and their feeding and nesting sites were degraded by water management schemes and wetland drainage. Even in the 21st century, an increase in the population of American White Pelicans in south-eastern Idaho in the US was seen to threaten the recreational cutthroat trout fishery there, leading to official attempts to reduce pelican numbers through systematic harassment and culling.
Great White Pelicans on Dyer Island, in the Western Cape region of South Africa, were culled during the 19th century because their predation of the eggs and chicks of guano-producing seabirds was seen to threaten the livelihood of the guano collectors. More recently, such predation at South African seabird colonies has impacted on the conservation of threatened seabird populations, especially Crowned Cormorants, Cape Cormorants and Bank Cormorants. This has led to suggestions that pelican numbers should be controlled at vulnerable colonies.
Apart from habitat destruction and deliberate, targeted persecution, pelicans are vulnerable to disturbance at their breeding colonies by birdwatchers, photographers and other curious visitors. Human presence alone can cause the birds to accidentally displace or destroy their eggs, leave hatchlings exposed to predators and adverse weather, or even abandon their colonies completely.
Poisoning and pollution
DDT pollution in the environment was a major cause of decline of Brown Pelican populations in North America in the 1950s and 1960s. It entered the oceanic food web, contaminating and accumulating in several species, including one of the pelican’s primary food fish – the northern anchovy. Its metabolite DDE is a reproductive toxicant in pelicans and many other birds, causing eggshell thinning and weakening, and consequent breeding failure through the eggs being accidentally crushed by brooding birds. Since an effective ban on the use of DDT was implemented in the US in 1972, the eggshells of breeding Brown Pelicans there have thickened and their populations have largely recovered.
In the late 1960s, following the major decline in Brown Pelican numbers in Louisiana from DDT poisoning, 500 pelicans were imported from Florida to augment and re-establish the population; over 300 subsequently died in April and May 1975 from poisoning by the pesticide endrin. About 14,000 pelicans, including 7500 American White Pelicans, perished from botulism after eating fish from the Salton Sea in 1990. In 1991 abnormal numbers of Brown Pelicans and Brandt's Cormorants died at Santa Cruz, California, when their food fish (anchovies) were contaminated with neurotoxic domoic acid, produced by the diatom Pseudo-nitzschia.
As waterbirds that feed on fish, pelicans are highly susceptible to oil spills, both directly by being oiled and by the impact on their food resources. A 2007 report to the California Fish and Game Commission estimated that, during the previous 20 years, some 500–1000 Brown Pelicans had been affected by oil spills in California. A 2011 report by the Center for Biological Diversity, a year after the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, said that 932 Brown Pelicans had been collected after being affected by oiling and estimated that ten times that number had been harmed as a result of the spill.
Where pelicans interact with fishers, through either sharing the same waters or scavenging for fishing refuse, they are especially vulnerable to being hooked and entangled in both active and discarded fishing lines. Fish hooks are swallowed or catch in the skin of the pouch or webbed feet, and strong monofilament fishing line can become wound around bill, wings or legs, resulting in crippling, starvation, and often death. Local rescue organisations have been established in North America and Australia by volunteers to treat and rehabilitate injured pelicans and other wildlife.
Parasites and disease
As with other bird families, pelicans are susceptible to a variety of parasites. Specialist feather lice of the genus Piagetella are found in the pouches of all species of pelican, but are otherwise only known from New World and Antarctic cormorants. Avian malaria is carried by the mosquito Culex pipens, and high densities of these biting insects may force pelican colonies to be abandoned. Leeches may attach to the vent or sometimes the inside of the pouch. A study of the parasites of the American White Pelican found 75 different species, including tapeworms, flukes, flies, fleas, ticks and nematodes. Many of these do little harm, but flies may be implicated in the death of nestlings, particularly if they are weak or unwell, and the soft tick Ornithodoros capensis sometimes causes adults to desert the nest. Many pelican parasites are found in other bird groups, but several lice are very host-specific.
Healthy pelicans can usually cope with their lice, but sick birds may carry hundreds of individuals, which hastens their demise. The pouch louse Piagetiella peralis, which occurs in the pouch and therefore cannot be removed by preening, is usually not a serious problem, even when present in such numbers that it covers the whole interior of the pouch, but sometimes inflammation and bleeding may harm the host. The Brown Pelican has a similarly extensive range of parasites. The nematodes Contracaecum multipapillatum and C. mexicanum and the trematode Ribeiroia ondatrae have caused illness and mortality in the Puerto Rican population, possibly endangering the pelican on this island. In May 2012, hundreds of Peruvian Pelicans were reported to have perished in Peru from a combination of starvation and roundworm infestation.
Mythology and popular culture
The pelican (Henet in Egyptian) was associated in Ancient Egypt with death and the afterlife. It was depicted in art on the walls of tombs, and figured in funerary texts, as a protective symbol against snakes. Henet was also referred to in the Pyramid Texts as the "mother of the king" and thus seen as a goddess. References in non-royal funerary papyri show that the pelican was believed to possess the ability to prophesy safe passage in the underworld for someone who had died.
An origin myth from the Murri people of Queensland, cited by Andrew Lang, describes how the Australian Pelican acquired its black and white plumage. The pelican, formerly a black bird, made a canoe during a flood in order to save drowning people. He fell in love with a woman he thus saved, but she and her friends tricked him and escaped. The pelican consequently prepared to go to war against them by daubing himself with white clay as war paint. However, before he had finished, another pelican, on seeing such a strange piebald creature, killed him with its beak, and all such pelicans have been black and white ever since.
Alcatraz Island was given its name by the Spanish because of the number of large numbers of Brown Pelicans nesting present. The world "alcatraz" is itself derived from the Arabic "al-caduos", a term used for a water-carrying vessel and likened to the pouch of the pelican. The English name albatross is also derived by corruption of the Spanish word.
In medieval Europe, the pelican was thought to be particularly attentive to her young, to the point of providing her own blood by wounding her own breast when no other food was available. As a result, the pelican came to symbolise the Passion of Jesus and the Eucharist, and usurped the image of the lamb and the flag. A reference to this mythical characteristic is contained for example in the hymn by Saint Thomas Aquinas, "Adoro te devote" or "Humbly We Adore Thee", where in the penultimate verse he describes Christ as the "loving divine pelican, able to provide nourishment from his breast". Elizabeth I of England adopted the symbol, portraying herself as the "mother of the Church of England". Nicholas Hilliard painted the Pelican Portrait in around 1573, now owned by the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. A pelican feeding her young is depicted in an oval panel at the bottom of the title page of the first (1611) edition of the King James Bible. Earlier Medieval examples of the motif appear in painted murals, for example that of c. 1350 in the parish church of Belchamp Walter, Essex.
The self-sacrificial aspect of the pelican was reinforced by the widely read mediaeval bestiaries. The device of "a pelican in her piety" or "a pelican vulning (from Latin vulno to wound) herself" was used in heraldry. An older version of the myth is that the pelican used to kill its young then resurrect them with its blood, again analogous to the sacrifice of Jesus. Likewise a folktale from India says that a pelican killed her young by rough treatment but was then so contrite that she resurrected them with her own blood.
The legends of self-wounding and the provision of blood may have arisen because of the impression a pelican sometimes gives that it is stabbing itself with its bill. In reality, it often presses this onto its chest in order to fully empty the pouch. Another possible derivation is the tendency of the bird to rest with its bill on its breast; the Dalmatian Pelican has a blood-red pouch in the early breeding season and this may have contributed to the myth.
Pelicans have featured extensively in heraldry, generally using the Christian symbolism of the pelican as a caring and self-sacrificing parent. The image became linked to the medieval religious feast of Corpus Christi. The universities of Oxford and Cambridge each have colleges named for the religious festival nearest the dates of their establishment, and both Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and Corpus Christi College, Oxford, feature pelicans on their coats of arms.
The medical faculties of Charles University in Prague also have a pelican as their emblem. The symbol of the Irish Blood Transfusion Service is a pelican, and for most of its existence the headquarters of the service was located at Pelican House in Dublin, Ireland. The heraldic pelican also ended up as a pub name and image, though sometimes with the image of the Golden Hind. Sir Francis Drake's famous ship was initially called Pelican, and adorned the British halfpenny coin.
The Great White Pelican is the national bird of Romania. The Brown Pelican is the national bird of three Caribbean countries—Saint Kitts and Nevis, Barbados and Sint Maarten—and features on their coats of arms. It is also the state bird of the US state of Louisiana, which is known colloquially as the Pelican State; the bird appears on the state flag and state seal. It adorns the seals of Louisiana State University and Tulane University, and is the mascot of the New Orleans Pelicans NBA team, Tulane University, and the University of the West Indies. A white pelican logo is used by the Portuguese bank Montepio Geral, and a pelican is depicted on the reverse of the Albanian 1 lek coin, issued in 1996. The name and image were used for Pelican Books, an imprint of non-fiction books published by Penguin Books. The seal of the Packer Collegiate Institute, a pelican feeding her young, has been in use since 1885.
A wonderful bird is the pelican,
His bill will hold more than his belican,
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week,
But I'm damned if I see how the helican.
- The US Government has not accepted the elevation of the two taxa into separate species.
- Linnaeus, C. (1758). Systema Naturae per Regna Tria Naturae, Secundum Classes, Ordines, Genera, Species, cum Characteribus, Differentiis, Synonymis, Locis. Tomus I. Editio Decima, Reformata (in Latin). Holmiae: Laurentii Salvii. pp. 132–34. "Rostrum edentulum, rectum: apice adunco, unguiculato. Nares lineares. Facies nuda. Pedes digitís omnibus palmatis."
- Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London, United Kingdom: Christopher Helm. p. 296. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
- Partridge, Eric (1983). Origins: a Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English. New York, New York: Greenwich House. p. 479. ISBN 0-517-414252.
- Simpson, J.; Weiner, E., ed. (1989). "Pelican". Oxford English Dictionary (2nd ed.). Oxford, United Kingdom: Clarendon Press. p. 1299. ISBN 0-19-861186-2.
- Hackett, S.J.; Kimball, R.T.; Reddy, S.; Bowie, R.C.K.; Braun, E.L.; Braun, M.J.; Chojnowski, J.L.; Cox, W.A.; Han, K.-L.; Harshman, J.; Huddleston, C.J.; Marks, B.D.; Miglia, K.J.; Moore, W.A.; Sheldon, F.H.; Steadman, D.W.; Witt, C.C.; Yuri, T. (2008). "A Phylogenomic Study of Birds Reveals Their Evolutionary History". Science 320 (5884): 1763–68. doi:10.1126/science.1157704. PMID 18583609.
- Smith, N.D. (2010). "Phylogenetic Analysis of Pelecaniformes (Aves) Based on Osteological Data: Implications for Waterbird Phylogeny and Fossil Calibration Studies". In Desalle, Robert. PLoS ONE 5 (10): e13354. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013354. PMC 2954798. PMID 20976229.
- Mayr, G. (2007). "Avian higher-level phylogeny: Well-supported clades and what we can learn from a phylogenetic analysis of 2954 morphological characters". Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research 46: 63–72. doi:10.1111/j.1439-0469.2007.00433.x.
- Louchart, Antoine; Tourment, Nicolas; Carrier, Julie (2011). "The Earliest Known Pelican Reveals 30 Million Years of Evolutionary Stasis in Beak Morphology". Journal of Ornithology 150 (1): 15–20. doi:10.1007/s10336-010-0537-5.
- Mlikovsky, Jiri (1995). "Nomenclatural and Taxonomic Status of Fossil Birds Described by H. G. L. Reichenbach in 1852". Courier Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg 181: 311–16.
- Olson, Storrs L. (1985). "Faunal Turnover in South American Fossil Avifaunas: the Insufficiencies of the Fossil Record". Evolution 39 (5): 1174–77. doi:10.2307/2408747.
- Olson, Storrs L. (1999). "A New Species of Pelican (Aves: Pelecanidae) from the Lower Pliocene of North Carolina and Florida". Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington 112 (3): 503–09.
- Lydekker, Richard (1891). Catalogue of the Fossil Birds in the British Museum (Natural History). London, United Kingdom: British Museum. pp. 37–45. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
- Rich, P.V.; van Tets, J. (1981). "The Fossil Pelicans of Australia". Records of the South Australian Museum (Adelaide) 18 (12): 235–64.
- Wetmore, A. (1933). "Pliocene Bird Remains from Idaho". Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections 87 (20): 1–12.
- Widhalm, J. (1886). "Die Fossilen Vogel-Knochen der Odessaer-Steppen-Kalk-Steinbrüche an der Neuen Slobodka bei Odessa". Schriften der Neurussische Gesellschaft der Naturforscher zu Odessa (in German) 10: 3–9.
- Miller, A.H. (1966). "The Fossil Pelicans of Australia". Memoirs of the Queensland Museum 14: 181–90.
- Nelson, J. Bryan; Schreiber, Elizabeth Anne; Schreiber, Ralph W. (2003). "Pelicans". In Perrins, Christopher. Firefly Encyclopedia of Birds. Richmond Hill, Ontario: Firefly Books. pp. 78–81. ISBN 1-55297-777-3.
- Marchant, S.; Higgins, P.J. (Coordinators). (1990). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Volume 1, Ratites to Ducks. Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press. pp. 737–38. ISBN 0-19-553068-3.
- "Dalmatian Pelican". Internet Bird Collection. Lynx Editions. Retrieved 19 May 2012.
- "Zoological Nomenclature Resource: Pelecaniformes (Version 2.003)". www.zoonomen.net. 14 December 2011. Retrieved 21 May 2012.
- "Brown Pelican". Endangered Species Program information sheet. US Fish & Wildlife Service. November 2009. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
- Ridgely, Robert S.; Gwynne, John A. (1992). A Guide to the Birds of Panama: With Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. p. 63. ISBN 0691025126. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
- Sibley, Charles Gald; Monroe, Burt Leavelle (1990). Distribution and Taxonomy of Birds of the World. Yale University Press. pp. 314–15. ISBN 0300049692. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
- BirdLife International (2011). "Pelecanus occidentalis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
- Chester, Sharon R. (2008). A Wildlife Guide to Chile: Continental Chile, Chilean Antarctica, Easter Island, Juan Fernández Archipelago. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. pp. 174–75. ISBN 0691129762. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
- Austermühle, Stefan (17 October 2010). "Peruvian Pelican". Mundo Azul. Retrieved 9 June 2012.
- BirdLife International (2011). "Pelecanus thagus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
- Brazil, Mark (2009). Birds of East Asia. London, United Kingdom: A&C Black. p. 110. ISBN 0713670401. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
- BirdLife International (2011). "Pelecanus philippensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 10 May 2012.
- Beaman, Mark; Madge, Steve (2010). The Handbook of Bird Identification: For Europe and the Western Palearctic. London, United Kingdom: A&C Black. pp. 83–85. ISBN 1408134942. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
- Elliott (1992), p. 309
- Langrand, Olivier (1990). Guide to the Birds of Madagascar. New Haven, Connecticut: Yale University Press. p. 96. ISBN 0300043104. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
- BirdLife International (2011). "Pelecanus rufescens". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
- Nellis, David W. (2001). Common Coastal Birds of Florida & the Caribbean. Sarasota, Florida: Pineapple Press. p. 11. ISBN 1-56164-191-X. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
- BirdLife International (2011). "Pelecanus erythrorhynchos". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
- Snow, David; Perrins, Christopher M, ed. (1998). The Birds of the Western Palearctic concise edition (2 volumes). Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. pp. 93–98. ISBN 0-19-854099-X.
- Mullarney, Killian; Svensson, Lars; Zetterstrom, Dan; Grant, Peter (1999). Collins Bird Guide. Collins. p. 76. ISBN 0-00-219728-6.
- BirdLife International (2011). "Pelecanus onocrotalus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
- BirdLife International (2011). "Pelecanus crispus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 10 May 2012.
- "Australian Pelican". Unique Australian Animals. Retrieved 10 June 2012.
- BirdLife International (2011). "Pelecanus conspicillatus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
- "Brown Pelican breeding and nesting habits". Florida Wildlife Viewing. M. Timothy O’Keefe. Retrieved 5 August 2012.
- Beebe, C. William (1965). The Bird, its Form and Function. New York, New York: Dover Publications.
- Elliott (1992), p. 290.
- Perrins, Christopher M. (2009). The Princeton Encyclopedia of Birds. Princeton University. p. 78. ISBN 0691140707.
- Marchant, S.; Higgins, P.J. (Coordinators). (1990). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Volume 1, Ratites to Ducks. Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press. p. 746. ISBN 0-19-553068-3.
- Steele, John H.; Thorpe, Steve A.; Turekian, Karl K. (2010). Marine Biology: A Derivative of the Encyclopedia of Ocean Sciences. London, United Kingdom: Academic Press. pp. 524–30. ISBN 0-08-096480-X.
- Perrins, Christopher M.; Middleton, Alex L.A, ed. (1998) . Encyclopedia of Birds. New York, New York: Facts on File. pp. 53–54. ISBN 0-8160-1150-8.
- Keith, James O. (2005). "An Overview of the American White Pelican". Waterbirds: the International Journal of Waterbird Biology 28 (Special Publication 1: The Biology and Conservation of the American White Pelican): 9–17. JSTOR 4132643.
- Campbell, Bruce; & Lack, Elizabeth. (Eds). (1985). A Dictionary of Birds. Calton, United Kingdom: Poyser. p. 443. ISBN 0-85661-039-9.
- Richardson, Frank (1939). "Functional Aspects of the Pneumatic System of the California Brown Pelican". The Condor 41 (1): 13–17. doi:10.2307/1364267.
- Bumstead, Pat (2001). Canadian Feathers : a Loon-atics Guide to Anting, Mimicry and Dump-nesting. Calgary, Alberta: Simply Wild Publications. p. 129. ISBN 0968927807.
- Gill, Brian James (1991). New Zealand's Extinct Birds. London, United Kingdom: Random Century. p. 46. ISBN 1869411250.
- Gill, B.J.; Tennyson, A.J.D. (2002). "New fossil records of pelicans (Aves: Pelecanidae) from New Zealand". Tuhinga: Records of the Museum of New Zealand Te PapaTongarewa 13: 39–44.
- Reid, Julian (28 April 2010). "Mysteries of the Australian pelican". Australian Geographic. Retrieved 18 June 2012.
- Thomas, Bob (2 June 2011). "Bird Flight Over Water". College of Social Sciences Intranet. New Orleans, Louisiana: Center for Environmental Communication, Loyola University. Retrieved 1 August 2012.
- Hainsworth, F. Reed (1988). "Induced Drag Savings From Ground Effect and Formation Flight in Brown Pelicans". Journal of Experimental Biology 135: 431–44.
- Khanna, D.R. (2005). Biology Of Birds. New Delhi, India: Discovery Publishing House. pp. 315–16. ISBN 817141933X. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
- Terrill, Ceiridwen (2007). Unnatural Landscapes: Tracking Invasive Species. Tucson, Arizona: University of Arizona Press. p. 36. ISBN 0816525234.
- Dunne, Pete (2006). Pete Dunne's Essential Field Guide Companion. New York, New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. pp. 118–19. ISBN 0-618-23648-1.
- Davidson, Ian; Sinclair, Ian (2006). Southern African Birds: A Photographic Guide (2nd ed.). Cape Town, South Africa: Struik. p. 22. ISBN 1770072446.
- Vestjens, W. J. M. (1977). "Breeding Behaviour and Ecology of the Australian Pelican, Pelecanus Conspicillatus, in New South Wales". Wildlife Research 4: 37–58. doi:10.1071/WR9770037.
- "Pelican Swallows Pigeon in Park". BBC News. 25 October 2006. Retrieved 25 October 2006.
- Clarke, James (30 October 2006). "Pelican's Pigeon Meal not so Rare". BBC News. Retrieved 5 July 2007.
- "Pelican Pelecanus". Factsheet. National Geographic. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
- Freeman, Shanna. "Does a Pelican's Bill Hold More Than its Belly Can?". HowStuffWorks, Inc. Retrieved 29 April 2012.
- Anon (1980). National accomplishments in pollution control, 1970–1980: some case histories. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Planning and Evaluation. pp. 183–184. ISBN 1236274539.
- Marchant, S.; Higgins, P.J. (Coordinators). (1990). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Volume 1, Ratites to Ducks. Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press. p. 742. ISBN 0-19-553068-3.
- Walker, Matt (5 November 2009). "Pelicans Filmed Gobbling Gannets". BBC. Retrieved 5 November 2009.
- Mwema, Martin M.; de Ponte Machado, Marta; Ryan, Peter G. (2010). "Breeding Seabirds at Dassen Island, South Africa: Chances of Surviving Great White Pelican Predation". Endangered Species Research 9: 125–31. doi:10.3354/esr00243.
- Mora, Miguel A. (1989). "Predation by a Brown Pelican at a Mixed Species Heronry". Condor 91 (3): 742–43. doi:10.2307/1368134.
- Crivelli, Alain J.; Schreiber, Ralph W. (1984). "Status of the Pelecanidae". Biological Conservation 30 (2): 147–56. doi:10.1016/0006-3207(84)90063-6.
- Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior (17 November 2009). "Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Removal of the Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife". Federal Register 74 (220): 59444–72.
- "Brown Pelican". Species profile. National Audubon Society. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
- Cappiello, Dina (12 November 2009). "Brown pelicans off endangered species list". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 13 June 2012.
- "Peruvian Pelican". BirdLife species factsheet. BirdLife International. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
- "Spot-billed Pelican". Species factsheet. BirdLife International. Retrieved 11 August 2012.
- "Pink-backed Pelican". BirdLife species factsheet. BirdLife International. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
- King, D. Tommy; Anderson, Daniel W (2005). "Recent Population Status of the American White Pelican: A Continental Perspective". USDA National Wildlife Research Center – Staff Publications. (Paper 40): 48–54.
- "Great White Pelican". BirdLife species factsheet. BirdLife International. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
- "Dalmatian Pelican". Species factsheet. BirdLife International. Retrieved 9 August 2012.
- Robin, Libby; Joseph, Leo; Heinsohn, Robert (2009). Boom & Bust: Bird Stories for a Dry Country. Collingwood, Victoria: CSIRO Publishing. p. 97. ISBN 064309606X.
- "Australian Pelican". BirdLife species factsheet. BirdLife International. Retrieved 7 August 2012.
- Wackenhut, M. (17 August 2009). Management of American White Pelicans in Idaho. A Five-year Plan (2009–2013) to Balance American White Pelican and Native Cutthroat Trout Conservation Needs and Manage Impacts to Recreational Fisheries in Southeast Idaho. Idaho Fish & Game. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
- "Code Of Practice for the Protection of the Dalmatian Pelican:". Information leaflet. Life Natura Program. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
- Gunderson, Dan (16 May 2012). "Loving 'em to death". Minnesota Today. Minnesota Public Radio. Retrieved 3 August 2012.
- Burkett, Esther; Logsdon, Randi J.; Fien, Kristi M. (2007). Status Review of California Brown Pelican. California Fish and Game Commission Reports. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Planning and Evaluation.
- Ehrlich, Paul R.; Dobkin, David S.; Wheye, Darryl (1988). "DDT and Birds". Stanford University. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
- Ermis, Julius (29 April 1982). "Bird species regroup with residue decline". The Victoria Advocate: Julius Ermis’ Outdoors. Google News. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
- Work, Thierry M.; Barr, Bradd; Beale, Allison M.; Fritz, Lawrence; Quilliam, Michael A.; Wright, Jeffrey L.C. (1993). "Epidemiology of domoic acid poisoning in Brown Pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) and Brandt's Cormorants (Phalacrocorax penicillatus) in California". Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 24 (1): 54–62. JSTOR 20460314.
- "A Deadly Toll". Report. Center for Biological Diversity. April 2011. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
- "The Brown Pelican Crisis". News and Events. Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network. Retrieved 5 August 2012.
- "Quick Reference for Rescuing Hooked Pelicans". University of Florida. Retrieved 5 August 2012.
- Ferris, Lance; Ferris, Rochelle (2004). The Impact of Recreational Fishing on Estuarine Birdlife on the Far North Coast of New South Wales. Ballina, New South Wales: Australian Seabird Rescue.
- Rothschild, Miriam; Clay, Theresa (1953). Fleas, Flukes and Cuckoos. A Study of Bird Parasites. London: Collins. pp. 32, 121, 147, 215. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
- Overstreet, Robin M.; Curran, Stephen S. (2005). "Parasites of the American White Pelican" (PDF). Gulf and Caribbean Research 17: 31–48.
- Dyer, William G.; Williams, Ernest H. Jr; Mignucci-Giannoni, Antonio A.; Jimenez-Marrero, Nilda M.; Bunkley-Williams, Lucy; Moore, Debra P.; Pence Danny B. (2002). "Helminth and Arthropod Parasites of the Brown Pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, in Puerto Rico, with a Compilation of all Metazoan Parasites Reported from this Host in the Western Hemisphere". Avian Pathology 31 (5): 441–48. doi:10.1080/0307945021000005815.
- "Pelícanos en La Libertad murieron por desnutrición y parasitosis" (in Spanish). Peru.com, 4 May 2012. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
- Hart, George (2005). The Routledge Dictionary Of Egyptian Gods And Goddesses. Routledge Dictionaries. Abingdon, United Kingdom: Routledge. p. 125. ISBN 978-0-415-34495-1.
- Lang, Andrew (1887 (reprinted 2005)). Myth, Ritual & Religion, Volume 1. New York, New York: Cosimo Inc. pp. 140–41. ISBN 978-1-59605-204-8.
- Benson, Elizabeth (1972) The Mochica: A Culture of Peru New York: Praeger Press.
- Berrin, Katherine; Larco Museum (1997). The Spirit of Ancient Peru:Treasures from the Larco Museum. New York, New York: Thames and Hudson. ISBN 0500018022.
- Skeat, Walter W. (1888). An etymological dictionary of the English Language (2 ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 14.
- Grant, Martin L. (1951). "The Origin of the Common Names of Birds". Bios 22 (2): 116–119.
- Gauding, Madonna (2009). The Signs and Symbols Bible: The Definitive Guide to Mysterious Markings. New York, New York: Sterling Publishing Company. p. 263. ISBN 1402770049. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
- McGrath, Alister E. (2012) . In the beginning: the story of the King James Bible and how it changed a nation, a language and a culture. New York: Anchor Books, a Division of Random House, Inc. ISBN 1444745263. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
- Joy, Mara. "Adore Te Devote". Retrieved 1 March 2012.
- "'Queen Elizabeth I: The Pelican Portrait', called Nicholas Hilliard (about 1573)". Walker Art Gallery. Liverpool, United Kingdom: National Museums Liverpool. 1998. Retrieved 29 July 2012.
- "The Pelican in its Piety at Painted Churches onlne catalog. Anne Marschall".
- "College Crest". Cambridge, United Kingdom: Corpus Christi College, Cambridge University. 2011. Retrieved 2 May 2012.
- "Corpus Christi". Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Retrieved 2 May 2012.
- "First Faculty of Medicine". Prague, Czech Republic: Charles University in Prague. 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2012.
- "Irish Blood Transfusion Service". IBTS. Retrieved 13 June 2012.
- Rothwell, David (2006). Dictionary of Pub Names. London, United Kingdom: Wordsworth Editions. p. 295. ISBN 1840222662. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
- Sugden, John (2012) . Sir Francis Drake. London, United Kingdom: Random House. p. 99. ISBN 1448129508. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
- "National Birds". List of national birds and flowers or plants of European countries. Eupedia. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
- "Pelican Craft Centre: Overview". Barbados Investment and Development Corporation. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
- "National Symbols: The Coat of Arms". Historic Heritage. St Christopher National Trust. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
- "Coat of Arms". St Maarten Museum website. Sint Maarten National Heritage Foundation. Retrieved 6 December 2010.
- "Montepio institutional". Montepio Bank website (in Portuguese). Montepio. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
- "Albanian coins in issue in 1995, 1996 and 2000". Bank of Albania. 2009. Retrieved 23 March 2009.
- "Middle School Handbook". packer.edu.
- Laney, Rex (1958). "The case of the pelican limerick". Louisiana Conservationist 1 (10): 6–7, 22.
- Knowles, Elizabeth (1999) . The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. p. 506. ISBN 0198601735.
To request an improvement, please leave a comment on the page. Thank you!