Brown Pelican

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Brown Pelican
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Brownpelican77.jpg
Brown Pelican


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

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Brown Pelican on the wing in Baja California
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. Template:Commons


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