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Brown Pelican Facts | Baja Wildlife Guide

The brown pelican is instantly recognizable; with its huge pouched bill and large size (4 feet long with a 6.5-foot wingspan), it is often the first bird that visitors identify. As its name suggests, these pelicans are generally brownish in color. During the breeding season, however, the adults have bright white and chestnut markings on their heads and necks. They nest year-round in most of the islands.

These pelicans have wide- fingered wings and are good gliders. They are often seen flying in a squadron-like formation, flapping and soaring in unison to create an elegant aerial ballet. They feed by shallow plunge diving and by scooping up as much as 2.5 gallons of water in their pouches. The water rapidly drains out through the bill, and the trapped fish are swallowed. It seems like a straightforward procedure, but apparently it is a difficult skill for the birds to acquire. Although parents raise frequent broods of two or three chicks, many of the fledged young are unable to learn the scoop-fishing technique quickly enough, and thus, starve to death.

Header Credit: Chris Willis
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