The Brown Pelican is a comical yet elegant bird, with an oversized bill, sinuous neck, and a big, dark body. These birds often
fly in squadrons and glide just above the surf along the southern and western coasts, rising and falling in a graceful echo of the waves.
They frequently feed by plunge-diving from high up, using the force of impact to stun small fish before scooping them up. These birds
are fairly common today—an excellent example of a species’ recovering from the pesticide pollution,
that once placed them at the brink of extinction. They are now relatively common and may often be seen when taking an Everglades tour.
Brown Pelicans are large, stocky seabirds. They have narrow necks and lengthy bills, with a stretchy throat pouch used
for capturing fish. Their wingspan is impressive as is apparent when these birds are gliding along.
Adult Brown Pelicans are typically gray-brown birds with yellow heads and white necks. In breeding plumage, the back and sides
of the neck turn a rich, dark reddish-brown. Young Brown Pelicans are gray-brown above (including the head and neck) with pale whitish
belly and breast.
Brown Pelicans feed by plunging into the water, stunning small fish with the impact of their large bodies and scooping them
up into their expandable throat pouches. When not foraging, pelicans enjoy standing around, fishing docks, jetties, and beaches or cruising
the shoreline. In flight, lines of pelicans glide on their broad wings, often surfing updrafts along wave faces or cliffs.
Their wingbeats are long, deep, and full of power and lift.
Brown Pelicans live along the southern and western sea coasts and are rarely seen inland (except at the Salton Sea in California,
where they are regularly seen in large numbers). They typically nest in colonies, often on isolated islands where they are free of land predators.
Learn more about the Everglades by taking an Everglades tour into the wild wetlands of South Florida.