Australian Pelican – enormous bill and 13 litres pouch

Australian Pelican

Australian Pelican is a big, waterbird and there are seven species of pelicans in the world. They are predominantly white with black along with primaries of the wings. The pale pink bill is enormous, even by the pelican standard. Males are larger than females. 

They can be found throughout Australia.

Normally, you find pelicans around the coasts, in the lagoons, bays and estuarine waters. Often, they roost on the sandbanks or float on the water occasionally dipping their oversized bill in search of fish.

Their diet is mostly fish, but also it could be small turtles, tadpoles, shrimps and other crustaceans.

For breeding, Australian pelicans often go to flooded salt lakes after the monsoonal rain. After lakes dry out, they leave to their normal habitat which is usually wetlands. They like to gather with a number up to 40000 individuals in secluded places.

During mating season pink colour manifests stronger. Australian Pelicans like large expanses of open water without too much vegetation.

Australian Pelican Bill

Australian Pelican bill is such a distinctive organ that is worth mentioning. 

The bill’s main purpose is to locate fish underwater. To catch fish,  they plunge their bill underwater and use their pouches as nets. Then, the water is emptied, and the fish is manoeuvred with its head pointing pelican’s throat and swallowed.

The bill measures 49 centimetres and is the largest out of all birds in the world.

Interestingly, the pouch can hold up to 13 litres of water. Amazing!

Australian Pelican Lifespan

Australian Pelican is able to breed at the age of 2 -3 years. 

They live between 10 to 25 years.

During our trips, we found pelicans in all states and territories in Australia. They are very common.

The funny way we found them in Bribie Island as they really like to sit on big street lamps that are located on the Bribie Island bridge.

Where spotted: Port Douglas, Bribie Island (and many other places)

Australian Pelican – more information


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Learn anything you have to know about cassowaries

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