Brown Pelican Fishing



Pelecanus occidentalis

The brown pelican is a large, grayish-brown bird with a blackish belly and a white head and neck. It has a long beak with a thin, membranous pouch, weighs 6 - 7 lbs and lives for 15 to 25 years. It is a common resident of the BVI, and incidentally is the National Bird of St Martin.


The Brown Pelican can hold about three gallons of water (and fish) in its pouch. They live year-round in estuaries and coastal marine habitats where they mostly eat small fish that form schools near the surface of the water—including mullet, anchovies, herring, and sailfin mollies.

 The pair chooses a relatively flat nest site near other pelicans at the same stage of the breeding cycle, on gravel, sand, soil, or amongst sparse vegetation. They lay 2 to 4 white eggs and incubate them with the skin of their feet, essentially standing on the eggs to keep them warm. 

The diet of pelicans usually consists of fish, but occasionally amphibians, turtles, crustaceans, insects, birds, and mammals are also eaten. The size of the preferred prey fish varies depending on pelican species and location. They can often be seen watching for fish from the tops of mangroves, or on anchored boats.

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