Australian Pelican

Australian pelican soaring through the air What does it look like? Its pouched bill, large size and distinct black and white plumage makes the Australian Pelican unmistakable with any other bird when perched or feeding on the water. When soaring at great heights it can be mistaken for the White-bellied Sea-Eagle, although its long bill is normally visible when more closely scrutinised.

Where does it live? It can be found in suitable watered habitats throughout Australia.

What are its habitats and habits? The Australian Pelican feeds on a variety of aquatic prey, mainly fish, and congregate in large numbers around areas where anglers clean their catch, but will also also eat ducks and their young. 

Interesting fact: 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: Pelecanus conspicillatus

Size: 1.6 to 1.8 m


Do you want to know the best places to go to see this species? Check out our book “Australia’s Birdwatching Megaspots” – available for purchase through our secure online store