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Australian pelican facts

Updated on July 30, 2012

Record braking pelicans

The Australian Pelican is a funny looking bird with its enormous light pink colored beak, and even by pelican standards it's the largest in the world. Apparently the biggest beak recorded was 49 cm (19.5) long - what a record! The Australian pelican is a fascinating bird; very eye catching with the big yellow markings around its eyes, and it looks like something which has come straight out of a cartoon! The Australian pelican can be found all over Australia in places with open water, so naturally not in the desert! It can also be found in some of the pacific islands close to Australia, as well as New Zealand and parts of Indonesia. There are 8 pelican species in the world and among them the Australian pelican proudly holds its record for being the biggest. Here's some fun facts about this amazing bird.

Big pelican Yawn


Interesting facts about the Australian pelican

The pelican is Australia's largest flying bird and its:

Wingspan is 2.5 - 3.4 meters

Weight is roughly between 5-8 kg

Color is white with black wingtips and black markings on their tail

Funny feat have 4 webbed toes that transforms into paddles when they swim

skeleton is very light, around 10% of their body weight

beak is 40-47 cm long

The female is slightly smaller than the male and they can usually live anywhere between 10-25 years. Some even longer.

Want to see the Australian pelicans? - Great travel books on Australia

Feeding & the amazing beak!

The Australian Pelican's incredible beak (or some people may call it bill) can hold between 9-13 liters of water when pouched. Pelicans usually fish together, and when working together as a team they manage to drive the fish into a central position, and then plunge their bills into the water and catch them. To avoid getting all the water into their stomach when fishing, they push their bill again the chest and squeeze out the water, so it's only the fish which remain in their beak. To make the fish go down correctly - longways and not sideways, they rotate it in their bill so they don't choke, and with one quick nod of their head they swallow the whole fish.

Pelican's are very easy to tempt with fish, and they often accept handouts from fishermen or even steal them! There are many places around Australia where they do pelican feeding in the afternoon, and it's always a great show to watch. Here's a picture from one at 'the Entrance" just north of Sydney.

Apart from fish what else does the Australian pelican eat?

Australian pelicans are huge eaters, consuming up to 9 kgs of food per day equivalent to their entire body weight! In addition to fish they also feed on tadpoles, crustaceans, turtles, duckling and even sea gulls.

The weight is no issue to them, and as graceful as they look when flying they are able to cover hundreds of kilometers at a stretch, and stay in the air for up to 24 hours.

Guestbook & Feedback - Thanks for stopping by, please feel free to add comments

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    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 5 years ago

      I like pelicans, we have them in Danube Delta... Thanks for a great lens

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Just stopped by again to see the Pelicans, and to say HI! :)

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

      I met one of these pelicans at the Taronga Zoo and it was a little scary how big it was. It was out in the open where I was walking along a walkway.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 6 years ago from United States

      Pelican are lovely birds to watch fly and fish. I love all of the photos you have shared.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 6 years ago

      OMG, I sure do love the pelicans ... reminds me of when I would go fishing in the Florida Keys ... mom lived on Pelican Lane in Big Pine Key. At the end of our fishing day, the pelicans would hang around our boat and try to snag the fish as we pulled them in.

    • SciTechEditorDave profile image

      David Gardner 6 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area, California

      Nice! I see pelicans all the time on the California coast. Congrats on a Squidoo masterpiece!

    • ellagis profile image

      ellagis 6 years ago

      Grrr... You made my dream to visit Australia grow stronger!!! It's not fair! ;-)

    • ellagis profile image

      ellagis 6 years ago

      Grrr... You made my dream to visit Australia grow stronger!!! It's not fair! ;-)

    • brendayoungerman profile image

      brendayoungerman 6 years ago

      WOW! I love pelicans and these are beautiful...thanks for sharing them!

    • profile image

      myshelle01 6 years ago

      I live in Australia,great country and I love pelicans. I take many photos of them every chance I get.

    • ForestBear LM profile image

      ForestBear LM 6 years ago

      Hi Tipi, thank you for your visit. Interesting point...guess their light skeleton should allow for their huge weight making them capable of flying! But their food consumption really is enormous!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I sure would enjoy taking part of a feeding session; have always wanted to visit Australia. What an interesting bird, being able to fly up to 24 hours and eating as much of their own body weight, I wonder if they can fly such a distance after consuming that much food.


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