Learning Interesting Facts about Brown Pelicans
Many people wearing University of Miami apparel looked on as Miami-Dade Fire Rescue crews helped a
pelican who was caught in a tree in Miami recently. The pelican had accidentally flown too close to the
tree and had gotten its wing caught in the tree.
The crews were able to locate the bird and successfully get it down from the tree. Pelicans are common
sightings throughout Florida and the surrounding states.
The most common type of pelican that appears in Florida is the brown pelican. It is interesting to note
that there are only 3 types of pelicans that live and dwell in the Western Hemisphere; all other pelican
species live in other parts of the world.
Although pelicans are generally thought to be large birds, the brown pelican is in fact the smallest type
of pelican in existence. It can be anywhere from 42-54 inches in length, and weigh 6.1 to 12 pounds.
The brown pelican has quite a large bill, with a gular pouch underneath the bill to drain out water when
it has caught fish for feeding. Although this type of pelican is named the brown pelican, the back and tail
of the brown pelican are actually usually streaked with both brown and gray feathers.
One of the most distinguishing habits of the brown pelican is that it dives from the air to attack its prey.
Its prey is usually fish swimming in the water far below.
Other types of pelicans will commonly skim the surface and find their fish this way. Brown pelicans are
most commonly seen on both coasts of the Americas.
On the Pacific coast, they are most commonly seen near California, Mexico, and Central America. On the
Atlantic coast, they are most commonly seen near the Gulf of Mexico.
Pelicans are very social birds; they like to travel in large flocks most of the time. These pelicans usually
fly in regular lines or single file lines.
Although some people think of pelicans as clumsy, these birds are actually quite graceful and beautiful
while in the air. One of the main reasons for this is because pelicans have internal air sacks under their
skin and in their bones that help them be extremely buoyant.
During the 1970s, the population of brown pelicans in the United States was greatly threatened because
of harmful pesticides like DDT. The way that researchers discovered that these pesticides were harming
the pelicans were because the shells of the pelican’s eggs were far too thin, and could not incubate a
baby pelican to maturity.
Because of the harm pesticides were causing brown pelicans, the state of Florida banned the use of the
pesticide DDT. Brown pelicans then went on to be protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.
Researchers currently estimate that there are around 650,000 brown pelicans in the ecosystem today.
Many people who wear University of Miami apparel feel that the brown pelicans of Florida must be
If you feel that the brown pelicans near your home are under threat, you can contact your congressman
or woman and express your concern.