Wildlife Fact Sheets

Brown Pelican

brown pelican

Brown Pelican

Pelecanus occidentalis

  • Life Span
    15-25 years
  • Habitat
    Shallow inshore waters like estuaries and bays are the best!
  • Range
    The Gulf of Mexico, Pacific and Atlantic coasts of both North and South America
  • Preferred Food
    Small to mid-size fish that I capture when I dive down into the water


I have a long neck with a stretchy throat pouch that I use to collect fish. I fly high in the sky to scope out my prey, then plunge into the water to scoop up small fish. I am a regular at your local beaches and fishing docks. My yellow head makes me easily identifiable, sitting atop my long white neck and gray-brown body.

At one point, pesticide pollution was a serious threat to my survival. Direct exposure to pesticides like DDT greatly impacted my ability to reproduce. I was even once on the Endangered Species List. Thankfully, the United States Environmental Protection Agency placed a ban on the use of DDT. Since then, I have been removed from the Endangered Species List and am thriving!

Did You Know?

We nest in colonies, sometimes up to 100 of us, on small coastal islands where our eggs are safe from predators.

Status and Conservation

We are very social and will congregate in large flocks for much of the year—the more the merrier! I can be clumsy on land, so I prefer to spend my time in the air, making it easy to spot fish to eat. While in flight, my friends and I get together to form either a “V” or straight line.

Fast Facts


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