Pelicans are Large black and white birds, with a large, pouched bill. The Australian Pelican Pelecanus conspicillatus is the only pelican occurring in Australia and has not been recorded breeding in any other country.
There is considerable truth to the popular saying that a pelican can hold more in its bill than it can in its belly. In fact, in certain species, the large pouched bill of the pelican can hold more than its entire body weight. The bill is regularly stretched to retain its elasticity. The normal prey of the pelican is fish and, occasionally, crustaceans. The fish are often hearded into a confined area, by several pelicans, which form a large circle. The circle is gradually made smaller, until the fish are concentrated. The fish are then captured by submersing the head in the water and filling the bill with both water and fish. The water is expelled from the bill using the tongue, and the fish are swallowed by tilting the head back. The bill is capable of holding up to 14 litres of water, as well as a quantity of fish. Fish extracted from the bill of one young bird was weighed at 4 kg, nearly half of its body weight, and an adult bird returning to its nest was found to have almost the same. Taking that a litre of water weighs approximately one kilogram, and that an average catch of fish was one kilogram, a pelican may hold up to 15 kg in its bill. The largest species of pelican is the Dalmatian Pelican, which weighs a maximum of 13 kg!
Pelicans have been well documented for catching and often eating unusual things. The larger species of pelican have been documented catching and eating small dogs, and one record has been documented of a pelican grabbing a young child in its bill, before the parents forced the bird to let the child go. Less dramatically, but just as interesting, is the Australian Pelican which is well renowned for eating ducks and their young.
Scientific name: Pelecanidae (family)