PELICANS of The World and Allies

Order Pelicaniformes    Family Pelecanidae - 1 genus


Herons (egrets), Pelicans, and Storks are related. Whether they should be grouped in one, two, or three orders is disputed. The grouping that will be followed here is: Herons - Pelicaniformes; Pelicans - Pelicaniformes; and storks - Ciconiiformes

Pelicans are large birds with a big throat pouch which they use for fishing. They primarily inhabit warm regions. Pelicans swim well with short, strong legs and feet that have four webbed toes. A layer of special fibers deep in the breast muscles can hold the wings rigidly horizontal for gliding and soaring. Pelicans rub the backs of their heads on their preen glands to pick up its oily secretion, which they transfer to their plumage to waterproof it. The diet of a Pelican consists mainly of fish. They often catch the fish by expanding the throat pouch which must be drained above the surface before they can swallow. The white pelicans often fish in groups by forming a line to chase schools of small fish into shallow water where they then scoop the fish up. The brown pelican of North America usually plunge-dives for its prey. Some other species occasionally plunge-dive. [abstracted from Wikipedia]


Genus Pelecanus

Pelican, Great White  also White Pelican  also  Rosy Pelican  Pelecanus onocrotalus  Found: Europe, Asia, Africa
The Great White Pelican has pure white plumage with black wing tips visible in flight. It swims or wades for fish.
Similar to: American White Pelican. Ranges do not overlap. Great White Pelican is larger.
Similar to: Dalmation Plelican. On average, the Dalmation Pelican is larger than the Great White Pelican. Dalmation has a messy hairdo compared with Great White. Dalmation is off white versus pure white for the Great White.
Similar to: Pink-backed Pelican. Great White Pelican is much larger. Pink-backed Pelican is gray versus pure white for the Great White.
Image by: 1) S. Shankar - Kenya  2) Dick Daniels - De Hoop, South AFrica   3) Sandy Cole - De Hoop, South Africa   4, 5, 6) Dick - Nepal  7) Dick -Kenya  8) Cristiano Crolle - Namibia



Pelican, Pink-backed  Pelecanus rufescens  Found: Africa
The Pink-backed Pelican has gray and white plumage; occasionally pink wash on back. It swims or wades for fish.
Similar to: Great White Pelican. Great White Pelican is much larger. Pink-backed Pelican is gray versus pure white for the Great White.
Image by: 1. 2. 3) Dick - Jacksonville Zoo, Florida  4, 5, 6) Dick - Fish Eagle Lodge, Knysna Lagoon, Kenya






Family Scopidae - 1 genus
It is a matter of debate whether the Hammerkop belongs in the same order as Pelicans or the Storks.

Genus Scopus - 1 species

Hamerkop Scopus umbretta   Found: Africa
The Hamerkop has brown plumage;  long flat bill; partially webbed feet. It builds a huge nest.
Image: 1) Dick Daniels - Tanzania   2, 3, 4) Dick - San Diego Zoo   5) Sandy - National Aviary  6) Sandy Cole - Tanzania 
    7, 8, 9) Dick - Nairobi National Park, Kenya
6) Hammerkop nest, perhaps the world's largest nest  9) Hamerkop warning about presence of lion






Family Balaenicipitidae - 1 genus
It is a matter of debate whether the Shoebill belongs in the same order as Pelicans or the Storks.

Genus Balaeniceps  - 1 species

Shoebill  Balaeniceps rex    Found: Africa
The Shoebill has blue-gray plumage; massive bill. When hunting fish it moves slowly and detects the fish purely by sight.
Image by: 1) Darren Bellerby - Jurong Bird Park, Singapore 
    2) Fritz Geller-Grimm -Zoological Garden, Frankfurt/Main, Germany





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