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Last updated on April 17, 2014 at 10:27 EDT

Brown Pelican

The Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis), lives strictly on coasts from Washington and Virginia south to northern Chile and the mouth of the Amazon River. Some immature birds may stray to inland freshwater lakes. After nesting, North American birds move in flocks further north along the coasts, returning to warmer waters for winter.

The Brown Pelican is the smallest of the eight species of pelican, although it is a large bird in nearly every other regard. It is 42-54 inches in length, weighs from 6-12 pounds and has a wingspan from 6 to 8.2 feet. This bird is distinguished from the American White Pelican by its brown body and its habit of diving for fish from the air, as opposed to co-operative fishing from the surface. It eats mainly herring-like fish. Groups of Brown Pelicans often travel in single file, flying low over the water’s surface.

The Brown Pelican is the state bird of Louisiana.

Photo Credit: Alan D. Wilson, www.naturespicsonline.com

Brown Pelican