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8 Brown Pelican Fun Facts | BeCause Tees

8 Brown Pelican Fun Facts

The majestic and graceful Brown Pelican is a fascinating bird that can be found primarily along the east and west coasts of North America. With its unique appearance and interesting behaviors, this bird is a subject of curiosity for many nature enthusiasts. So, let's dive into some Brown Pelican fun facts!

Brown pelican on water

Brown Pelican Fun Facts

1. Acrobatic Divers

One of the most mesmerizing sights in the bird kingdom is the Brown Pelican's diving behavior. These birds are superb divers and are capable of plunging into the water from heights of up to 65 feet to catch their prey. They use their keen eyesight to spot fish swimming near the surface, and then fold their wings and dive headfirst into the water to capture their meal. It's a remarkable display of precision and agility.

2. The Smallest Pelican in the World

Out of the 6 species of pelican in the world, the Brown Pelican is the smallest, measuring just over 4 feet in length.

3. Fishing Pouches

Unlike many other bird species, Brown Pelicans have a distinctive pouch that stretches from their lower bill to their throat. This pouch can expand to hold over 2 gallons of water and fish - after diving into the water and catching their prey, they drain out the water and swallow their catch whole.

Brown pelican and gulls 4. They Have Competition for Food

Gulls and other small birds often try to steal fish from Brown Pelicans before they can swallow it! As the Brown Pelican drains the water from its pouch, birds will try to grab the fish from out of their pouch.

5. An Ancient Species

The Brown Pelican is one of the oldest bird species still in existence today. Fossil records suggest that pelicans have been around for at least 30 million years. So they're old, but not as old as sharks and trees!

Their unique physical features and behaviors have been finely tuned over millions of years of evolution, making them superbly adapted to their coastal habitats.

6. Keeping Their Eggs Warm

Unusually, pelicans use their webbed feet to keep their eggs warm.

Brown pelican flying

7. A Quiet Bird

Brown Pelicans are usually silent, however they emit a low grunt noise when at their nesting grounds.

8. From Endangered to Least Concern Status

The Brown Pelican has faced many challenges throughout history, particularly due to the use of pesticides, including DDT, which caused severe population declines during the 1960s and 1970s. The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill also greatly affected Brown Pelicans, as well as sea turtles, and other marine life. 

With a ban on DDT being introduced, combined with conservation efforts, Brown Pelican populations have recovered, and they are now listed as a species of least concern. Brown Pelicans are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in the United States and are admired for their beauty and ecological significance.


The Brown Pelican is truly a remarkable bird with its diving prowess, expandable pouch, and captivating behaviors. Whether you're lucky enough to spot one along the coast or simply enjoy learning about these incredible creatures, the Brown Pelican never fails to leave a lasting impression. Leave an impression on everyone you meet with our hand-drawn Brown Pelican apparel!

Brown pelican shirt


1 Response



July 31, 2023

Thank you for the fun facts. We stayed near a pelican preserve in Florida this past March. Flocks flew over the house several times a day.

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