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Encyclopedia > Pelecanus occidentalis
Brown Pelican
Brown Pelican
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Pelecaniformes
Family: Pelecanidae
Genus: Pelecanus
Species: occidentalis
Binomial name
Pelecanus occidentalis
Linnaeus, 1766

The Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis ) is the smallest (42"-54") member of the pelican family.

It lives strictly on coasts from Washington and Cape Cod to the mouth of the Amazon River. Some immature birds may stray to inland freshwater lakes. After nesting, North American birds move further north along the coasts in flocks, returning to warmer waters for winter.

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 cooperative fishing from the surface. It dines mostly on herring-like fish. Groups of these birds often travel in single file, flying low over the water's surface.

The nest location varies from a simple scrape on the ground on an island to a bulky stick nest in a low tree. These birds nest in colonies, usually on islands.

Pesticides like DDT and dieldrin threatened its future in the southwest United States and California in the early 1970s.

There are four subspecies:

  • Pelecanus occidentalis californicus (California brown pelican)
  • Pelecanus occidentalis carolinensis
  • Pelecanus occidentalis occidentalis Linnaeus, 1766
  • Pelecanus occidentalis thagus

It is the state bird of Louisiana.

The Brown Pelican is protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty of 1972.

Pelecanus: Latin for pelican; occidentalis: Latin meaning western.

  Results from FactBites:
Brown Pelican - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (362 words)
Along with the American White Pelican, the Brown Pelican is protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.
Peruvian pelicans used to be considered a subspecies of the brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis thagus).
However, due to their well-defined allopatry and because they are much larger and heavier than their relatives, they were reclassified as a separate species.
Abstract, Charles K. Blend (2143 words)
Endohelminths from the brown pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis, and the American white pelican, Pelecanus erythrorhynchus, from Galveston Bay, Texas, U.S.A., and checklist of pelican parasites.
A mean of 120 and a range of 4 to 2,134 helminths were present in the American white pelican, and a mean of 57 and a range of 2 to 10,413 helminths were found in the brown pelican.
The diplostomulum of Bursacetabulus pelecanus is found free in the brain of the catfish; the adult infects the white pelican, and the first intermediate host is a gyro snail (Gyraulus sp.).
  More results at FactBites »



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