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.

Scientific name: Pelecanidae (family)

Australian Pelican

Australian Pelican

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 w...