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Pacific Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis californicus)
Birds Around Las Vegas, Wildlife Around Las Vegas
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)
Pacific Brown Pelican, breeding adult

General Description: Pacific Brown Pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis californicus) are very large birds (wingspan over 6 feet) with an enormous bill and stretchy skin at the base of the bill that expands to form a pouch when feeding.

Adult Pacific Brown Pelicans are dark overall with a light neck and head. During the nonbreeding season, the crown is white, the neck is white, the bill is yellow-gray, and the throat pouch is yellowish.

During the courtship season, the crown becomes golden-yellow, the throat pouch becomes red, the back of the neck becomes dark brown, and the bill becomes yellow and red. During nesting, the back of the neck remains reddish-brown, but the other features return to the nonbreeding condition. Compare with American White Pelicans. and Atlantic Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis carolinensis).

Juveniles have a dirty-gray head and neck, dark body, and light underparts.

Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)
Juvenile (left) and nonbreeding adult (right)

Taxonomy: Pelecaniformes, Pelecanidae

Favored Habitat: Coastal areas of the North America, but occasionally inland rivers and lakes.

Where to Find: Around Las Vegas, Pacific Brown Pelicans uncommon, but look for them during fall and winter at Lake Mead. Otherwise, take a birding trip to the Pacific Coast.

Comments: Brown Pelicans usually feed by diving head first into the water to catch fish, but sometimes they feed by dipping their long bill into the water. American White Pelicans never dive into the water to catch fish.

Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) If you were a tasty little fish, this might be the last face you ever see!
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)
Brown Pelican diving on a fish ...
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)
... and the bird is almost all the way under water ...
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)
... and it comes up empty? ...
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)
... apparently not, given harassment from a Heermann's Gull
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)
Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)
Note: All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 120911

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