Louisiana State Bird
Brown Pelican (common name)
Pelecanus occidentalis (scientific name)
The brown pelican is a very large water bird admired for its social and playful behavior. It became Louisiana's state bird in 1966. It is dark brown and gray in color with a white head and neck. Brown pelicans are found in groups along the shore or in grassy salt marshes where they nest in colonies, usually on small coastal islands. Like other pelicans, they have a large bill, the lower part of which has a pouch that can be extended to store fish. They primarily eat menhaden fish and also eat other fish and shrimp. Nests are large and made of reeds, grasses, and sticks. The species is relatively long-lived.
ALSO KNOWN AS
American brown pelican, common pelican
Brown pelicans survey prey from the air and plunge into the water headfirst to trap the fish in their bill's pouch. They then drain the water out the sides of their bill and swallow the fish. Flocks of pelicans can often be seen at a distance, flying in "V" formations. The male brown pelican constructs a nest and engages in courtship displays to attract a female. Both sexes take turns incubating their eggs as well as feeding the young, who leave the nest five to nine weeks after hatching.
Brown pelicans live along coastlines, nesting on the ground or on cliff sides. Unlike other pelicans, they are rarely seen inland.
Range: Pacific, Atlantic, and Gulf coasts north to Nova Scotia in the east and Washington State in the west. Breeding grounds are from South Carolina to Texas and south to Brazil.
Migration: In late summer from southern breeding colonies to more northern coastal areas.
Conservation Status: The brown pelican was listed as endangered (at risk of extinction) in 1970. It had completely died out in Louisiana by the 1950s for two reasons. The first was DDT, a pesticide that has since been banned in the U.S. DDT caused the pelican's eggshells to become so thin they broke during incubation. The other contributor to the pelican's local demise was hunting by people who felt it competed with fishermen. With protections, the bird has made significant recovery. Its endangered status is currently under review.
Nesting Period: March to November
Size of Clutch: 2-3 eggs
Incubation Period: 29-32 days
Egg Description: White
Egg Size: 2.7 x 1.7 in (70 x 45 mm)
American white pelican, eastern (great white) pelican
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|Author: World Trade Press|