Australian Pelican


The Pelican is one of the largest birds in Australia weighing up to 7kg. It is white and black with a wingspan of up to 3 meters and stands up to 1.8 meters tall. The Pelicans pouched bill is 40 to 47cm and can hold 9 to 13 litres of water.

According to the Guinness Book of Records, they are the biggest beaks in the bird kingdom. The long bill that has a soft feeling throat and the pouch underneath called a grunt or a groan is used as a net to catch food such fish frogs and tadpoles. Once food is caught in the pouch the Pelican draws the bill towards its breast and let the water drain out and then eat the food. At times they work in flocks on the water to herd fish into a small area. Beating their wings and using their bills they herd fish into shallow water where they share the catch.

The pelican has webbed feet and is a great flier; it can fly very high and very low. They can skim the surface of the water with a long, controlled gliding motion and they can rise to altitudes of 3000 metres. The can ride the thermals and reach a speed of 56km/h. The can stay aloft for 24 hours.

Groups of pelicans are known as pods, scoops or squadrons. Pelicans are ancient; fossils have been dated at 40 million years.

Pelicans nest in large flocks, usually after heavy rain close to water. Male and female take turns incubating the two eggs laid by the female. Pelican chicks communicate with their mothers while still in the egg, they can communicate as to whether they are too hot or cold. They also listen to their parents from the egg - so when they emerge, they have no trouble identifying their parents. When the chicks are feathered and about 25 days old they join other chicks from the colony in what is called a crèche and at three months old they can fly. Pelicans do not have a crop,their food goes down the gullet and into the stomach. Young pelicans must reach down the throat of their parents to feed.





©Wildlife Mountain 2000 - 2017


We would also like to acknowledge the amazing support and help we have had from the Lismore Vet Clinic who have been an invaluable support to both us and the native wildlife of this region.

All native birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles are proteced under the Wildlife Act 1975, they may not be captured or harmed in any way without an authority issued under the Wildlife Act.