Great White Pelican

Great White Pelican Video

Great White Pelicans Great White Pelicans at L'Oceanogràfic,
Valencia, Spain. ©

Latin Name Pelecanus onocrotalus
Conservation Status Least Concern
Location Africa, E Europe, Asia
Colour White
Length 148 - 180 cm (58 - 71 inches)
Wingspan 226 - 360 cms (89 - 142 inches)
Weight 5 - 15 Kgs (11 - 33 lbs)
Life Expectancy -

Main Characteristics

Great White Pelicans reach lengths between 148 and 180 cms (58 - 71 inches), they have a wingspan between 226 and 360 cms (89 - 142 inches) and they weigh between 5 and 15 kgs (11 - 33 lbs).

They are white in colour with long, broad wings that have black and grey primary feathers. They have a large body, short legs, a short tail and webbed feet. They have a long, yellow bill that has a pouch on the lower half.

During the breeding season adults have low, hoarse display calls, but they are generally silent when they are not nesting.

Great White Pelicans are strong swimmers and they can reach speeds up to 6 km/hr (3.7 mph).


Great White Pelicans can be found in the freshwater lakes, marshes, swamps and deltas of Africa, Asia and eastern Europe.


Great White Pelicans feed on fish, mainly carp and cichlids. They do not dive to catch their prey, instead they dip their head underwater and scoop up fish. Several pelicans fish cooperatively where they move into a circle to concentrate the fish, then they dip their heads under simultaneously to catch fish.


Great White Pelicans nest in colonies and an average of 2 eggs are laid in a nest on the ground. The eggs are incubated for 29 - 36 days, the chicks fledge at 65 - 75 days and they reach sexual maturity at 3 - 4 years of age.


Humans are the main predator of Great White Pelicans.


There are no subspecies of the Great White Pelican.

Interesting Facts

Great White Pelicans are also known as:
White Pelican
Eastern White Pelican

The Great White Pelican is one of the species to which the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) applies.

Pelicans and their relatives make up the order "Pelecaniformes" and they can be distinguished from other birds by having feet with all four toes webbed - totipalmate.

Similar Birds

Brown Pelican
American White Pelican

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