Great White Pelican

The Great White Pelican (Pelecanusonocrotalus) is one of the world’s largest flying birds, known for its impressive size, distinctive bill with a large throat pouch, and sociable behavior.



They prefer shallow, warm freshwater lakes but can also be found in estuaries, deltas, and marshes. They require large, undisturbed water bodies for breeding and rich feeding grounds nearby. Their range spans from the Balkans through to parts of Asia, including India and China, down to Africa, where they are found in large, scattered populations across the continent, particularly in the Rift Valley lakes.


They are massive birds, with a body length ranging from 140 to 180 cm (55 to 71 inches), a wingspan of 226 to 360 cm (7.4 to 11.8 feet), and a weight between 9 to 15 kg (20 to 33 lbs), making them among the heaviest flying birds.


They nest in large colonies on the ground, on islands, or in dense vegetation near water bodies. The nest is a simple scrape in the earth, sometimes lined with feathers and vegetation. A typical clutch contains 1 to 3 eggs. Both parents are involved in incubation, which lasts about 30 to 36 days. The chicks are altricial and depend on their parents for food and protection for several months.


Great White Pelicans are cooperative feeders, often working together to herd fish into shallow waters to scoop them up in their expansive throat pouches. Unlike the Brown Pelican, they do not dive from the air for fish; instead, they feed while swimming.


Primarily piscivorous, they feed mostly on fish. Their diet is supplemented with amphibians, crustaceans, and occasionally small birds.


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