often found along North Americas seacoasts and coastal rivers,
this large, bulky bird has a huge bill with a deeply expansible
skin pouch in its lower mandible. It has a gray-brown body, whitish
head and red-brown neck with white stripe. About 42 to 54 inches
in length, and weighing eight to ten pounds, the brown pelican
can have up to a seven foot wingspan.
pelicans are unique in that they dive from the air for their food.
Sighting their prey while in flight, they often plunge dive from
heights of 20 to 50 feet to capture fish. Upon water entry the
pelican lifts its upper mandible and opens its pouch outward to
form a scoop. Once fish are trapped inside its pouch, the pelican
shuts its bill and bobs to the surface. After waiting for water
to drain from its bill, it swallows the fish.
on the ground, pelicans are magnificent flyers capable of sustained
soaring flight over great distances. In normal flight, they sail
and glide, breaking the rhythm from time to time with slow-motion
flaps of their wings.
Text © 1993 Dianne Harrah, Drawing ©
1993 Bill Harrah