(Pelecanus conspicillatus)

Length:  150-180 cmCommon

This huge bird with a massive bill will use almost any large or small body of water from coastal bays to temporary pools in the desert.

It may feed in groups driving fish into the shallows or it may feed alone. It dips its bill into the water to trap fish. Excess water is squeezed out of the corners of the mouth by pressing the bill pouch to the breast.

The head is tucked back in flight producing a tubby shape. It soars on flat wings and circles in thermals to great heights. The Pelican may travel vast distances in V formation. In droughts some have reached Indonesia, the Solomon Islands and New Zealand.

Pelicans breed throughout Australia. They develop red courtship colours on the bill which they raise, swing and ripple the pouch in display. When pairing beings, several male birds follow one female until only one male is left. The female selects the nest site, usually on rough ground and both birds collect sticks and plants. The chicks pick food from both parents’ gullets and then fall into violent convulsions. This may be an exaggerated form of begging.

The fossil remains of Pelicans in Australia have been found in deposits 30 to 40 million years old.

Pelicans breed at any time of the year if sufficient water and food is available. Eggs: 2 to 4; pure white.