The Brown Pelican is a large seabird that is widely distributed in the Americas. These birds have a wingspan of up to 7.5 feet (2.3 meters) and can weigh up to 11 pounds (5 kilograms). They are easily recognizable by their long, hooked bills, which are used to catch fish. Brown Pelicans have dark brown feathers on their backs and wings, and white feathers on their heads and necks. Their most distinguishing field mark is the large, expandable throat pouch they use to catch fish.
Brown Pelicans are found in coastal areas throughout the Americas, from the southern United States to the northern tip of South America. They are also found in the Caribbean, the Galapagos Islands, and the Pacific islands. During the breeding season, Brown Pelicans are found in large colonies on offshore islands and coastal cliffs. They generally migrate in the winter to warmer areas, but some populations remain year-round in their breeding range.
Brown Pelicans are known for their spectacular fishing techniques. They fly over the ocean, often in groups, and dive headfirst into the water to catch fish. They can adjust their diving speed and angle to catch fish of different sizes. Once they catch a fish, they use their pouch to scoop it up and drain the water out before swallowing it whole. Brown Pelicans are also known to steal fish from other seabirds.
Despite their impressive fishing skills, Brown Pelicans face a number of threats. Their habitat is threatened by coastal development and pollution, and they are often caught in fishing nets or hooks. In the 1970s, the Brown Pelican was listed as endangered due to the use of the pesticide DDT, which caused the birds to lay eggs with thin shells that broke during incubation. Since the banning of DDT, the Brown Pelican population has recovered, and they are now listed as a species of least concern.
Overall, the Brown Pelican is a remarkable seabird that plays an important role in coastal ecosystems. Its unique features and impressive fishing skills make it a favorite among birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts.