Brown Pelicans

Brown Pelicans are one of two species of pelican found in North America; the other is the American White Pelican.  There are 7 species in the world. Brown Pelicans are big, stocky birds found on the east coast and west coast of North America. They are also only one of two species of pelican that plunge dive for fish.

Even though they can be seen frequently on beaches, Brown pelicans used to be endangered. The pesticide DDT affected their eggs – making them soft.  This caused pelican eggs to break easily and the pelican populations went down dramatically. This pesticide also affected other species of birds and was eventually banned. Since the eradication of DDT, pelican numbers have recovered and they were taken off the endangered species list in 2009.

Brown pelicans are hatched naked and grey and as they grow they get fluffy white feathers on their body. Then as they become juveniles they have brown colored feathers all over their body and white bellies. After about three years they get their adult feathers, which is the grey/silver body, brown neck and white head. They also have reddish color to their bill and blue hue around the eyes. During breeding season their neck turns a dark, rich brown and the yellow on their head tends to fade.