Pelican Facts for Kids

What is a Pelican?

A pelican is a large species of water bird. They make up the species of birds in the Pelecanidae family.

What does a pelican look like?

A pelican is a large bird with a pouch that sits under its bill. They use their pouch to scoop up prey from the water.

Pelicans have short but strong legs. Each foot has four webbed toes.

They are large birds some species can be up to 5.7 ft long with wingspans up to 10.5 ft and weigh 33 pounds!

What do Pelican Eat?

Pelicans are carnivores meaning they eat meat. A pelican’s diet mostly consists of fish. They have also been known to eat crustaceans, amphibians, turtles small mammals, and even smaller birds.

Pelican Habitat

Pelicans are water birds or sea birds. They live by rivers, lakes, ponds, lagoons, swamps, wetlands, and along the coastlines. Pelicans prefer a warm climate but are found living all over the world. They live on every continent except Antarctica.

Types of Pelicans

There are eight main types of pelicans.

Brown Pelican

The brown pelican is the smallest type of pelican. They are 4 ft-5 ft in length have a wingspan of 6.5-7.5 ft and weigh between 6-12 pounds.

Brown pelicans live along the coastlines of North America, South America, and the Caribbean.

The brown pelican is the state bird of Louisiana.


Brown Pelicans have a gray-brown body with yellow heads and a pale belly. They have white skinny necks with a long bill and a stretchy pouch that sits under their bill. Brown Pelicans have short legs and a short tail.

Dalmatian Pelican

The Dalmatian Pelican is the largest of the pelican species. The at 5-5.9 ft long. Weigh between-33 pounds and have a wingspan of 8-10.5 ft.

Dalmatian Pelican lives near swamps, lakes, and lagoons of Eastern Europe to China.


Dalmatian Pelicans are silver-white color with an orange-red rubbery pouch. Dalmatian pelicans have skinny necks with long bills. During breeding season their pouches fade to a yellowish color. Dalmatian Pelicans have short legs and a short tail.

American White Pelican

American White Pelican or also known as Rough-Billed Pelicans are 4.3 ft – 5.9 ft long with a wingspan of 8 ft – 9 ft and weigh between 10 and 20 pounds.

American White Pelicans live in North and South America.


American White Pelicans have white feathers with black tips toward the bottom of their wings. They have a yellow-orange patch around their eyes. They have short legs and a short tail.

Australian Pelican

The Australian Pelican is 5 ft -6 ft in length with a wingspan of 8 – 11 ft. They weigh between 8 – 18 pounds.

Australian Pelican lives in Australia, New Zealand Figi, New Guinea, and Indonesia.


They are mostly white black at the tips of their wings. They have a pale pink bill and a grey streak down the back of their necks. They have blueish-grey legs and feet. Australian Pelicans have the longest bill of any species of pelicans. They have shorts tails and short legs.

Great White Pelican

Great White Pelicans are 4.5 ft – 5.7 ft long with a wingspan of 8 ft – 9 ft. They weigh between 22-24 pounds.

Great White Pelicans live in swamps and lakes of Africa, Eastern Europe, and Asia.

Great White Pelicans hunt together in groups. Great White Pelicans are aggressive birds. If no regular food is available they will eat seagulls and other small birds.

They hunt these animals by pulling their prey by their heads underwater until they drown, they will eat them.


Great White Pelicans are white in color with grey and black feathers. They have a pinkish-yellow patch around their eyes. Great White Pelicans have short tails with short pinkish legs.

Pink Back Pelicans

Pink Back Pelicans are 4.1 ft -4.3 ft long with a wingspan of 8.7 ft – 9.5 ft long and weight between 8 -15 pounds

Pink Backed Pelicans live in Africa and Southern Arabia.


Pink Backed Pelicans have grey-white feathers that cover their body and pink feathers down their backs. They also have a pale pink belly. They have short legs and a short tail.

Spot-Billed Pelicans

Spot-Billed Pelicans are also known as Grey or Philippine Pelican

Spot-Billed Pelicans ate 4 ft – 5 ft long with a wingspan of 8 ft. They weight approximately 11 pounds.

They are the most endangered species of pelican.

They live in the wetlands of Lake Cambodia, Sir Lanka, Pakistan, and Thailand.


Spot-Billed Pelicans are white and grey with a short brown tail. Their pouch is pink-purple in color with large pale spots. They also have spots and their back and sides. Spot-Billed Pelicans have short legs.

Peruvian Pelican

Peruvian Pelicans are 5 ft in length with an 8 ft wingspan. They weight about 15 pounds.

Peruvian Pelicans list along the coast of South American from Ecuador to Peru.


Unlike other pelicans, the Peruvian Pelican is dark in color. They have orange bills with a white stripe that runs from the top to the bottom.

Is a Pelican a Good Pet?

Pelicans do not make good pets. They need to live where they have a large amount of space to fly. Pelicans along need to hunt for fish. They would not enjoy living in a small space. Pelicans should live in the wild, where they are free to roam.

Baby Pelicans

Both the male and female pelican will help to make the nest. The male will go out to find sticks and grass, he when then bring it to the female who will build the nest.

A mother pelican will lay two to three eggs. The eggs which are blueish in color will hatch in a little over a month. A baby chick will hatch in 29-35 days. Pelican chicks are born hairless, they have pink colored skin. They are helpless and depend on their parents for survival.

Within 1-2 weeks the baby chicks will start to crawl. In about 3 weeks baby chicks are starting to walk and swim. At 9-10 weeks the chicks will start to fly.