Pelicans From Around The World

Congratulations to everyone for getting to the end of 2021. Well done! Today at Light Future Art, we’ve got a great blog post about pelicans. Sit back, relax, and enjoy. You’ve earned it.


Pelicans have existed in their current forms for roughly 30 million years. The oldest known pelican fossil was found in the Luberon in France. There are eight extant species of pelicans today. Let’s take a close look.

American White Pelicans
American White Pelicans

American white pelicans spend their summers in Canada, Midwestern United States, and the Pacific coast. They migrate south to Mexico and the Southern United States in winter but some who are blown off course may winter in the Caribbean. While we typically think of pelicans of shorebirds, American white pelicans nest in inland North America in the spring. One nesting colony may be comprised of hundreds of pairs. Both parents take turns incubating their eggs. By the time they need to migrate, the young chicks are able to care for themselves and no longer rely on their parents.

Australian pelicans can be found in Australia, Tasmania, New Guinea, Indonesia, and Fiji. They do not migrate but do move frequently in response to food availability. The most common catalyst for a flock’s relocation is a drought, which they move ahead of. Australian pelicans hunt fish together, driving the fish to shallower waters where it is easier to grab them. Some feeding areas have been known to contain hundreds, if not thousands, of pelicans.



Adult Brown Pelican
Brown Pelican

Brown pelicans live in the Southern United States, Mexico, and Central America. They are the state bird of Louisiana and the national bird of the Turks and Caicos Islands, Barbados, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Martin. Brown pelicans have recieved a lot of attention for conservation. The first step towards protecting them was Theodore Roosevelt’s Pelican Island in Florida, the first National Wildlife Refuge, to protect the birds from hunters.

Dalmatian pelicans move in large flocks across Europe and Asia. They are not particular about where they nest and will return year after year to the same site, as long as it is usable. They prefer warm lakes and marshes and spend their winters in protected lakes in China and India. Dalmatian pelicans are the largest pelican species and is one of the largest flying bird species.

Great white pelicans can be found in Southern Europe and throughout most of Africa. They have the largest known habitat out of all the pelican species. While they don’t have the largest population, numbering behind at least two other species, the great while pelicans can still form large flocks. They are highly social and usually fly together in a V-formation.


Adult Peruvian Pelican
Peruvian Pelican


The Peruvian pelican lives only on the South Peruvian and Chilean coast. They may visit Southern Chile and Ecuador. These pelicans have darker feathers than other pelican species, with dark feathers from the back of their head down to their wings. The Peruvian pelican was originally thought to be a subspecies of the brown pelican but differences in their plumage were significant enough to reclassify Peruvian pelicans on their own.



Pink-backed pelicans live in Africa, the Middle East, and Southern India. They prefer to nest in mangroves near lakes and swamps, but rarely near the ocean. These pelicans use the same trees every year to build their nests in, with one tree containing many nests at once, until the trees collapse. When this happens, they will usually move to another tree nearby.

Spot-billed pelicans can be found in Southern Asia on large lakes and coastal waters. They are not migratory and nest in large colonies alongside other waterbirds, such as painted storks. After an incubation period of of a month, the three or four chicks hatch. They are dependent on their parents for three or four months.


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