A Florida Brown Pelican
A Brown Pelican
Photo credit: SFWMD


The Endangered Birds of Florida



The Florida Pelicans



The Brown Pelican
Pelecanus occidentalis


The Brown Pelican has been removed from the Endangered List.


To begin: what is a Bird?

A Bird is a warm blooded, bipedal (two legs)

vertebrate (has a backbone) with feathers,

bills and wings and most can fly.

It lays eggs to reproduce and many theories have

it classified as a direct descendant of Dinosaurs,

dating back to the Jurassic period.


The Brown Pelican is a truly exciting bird to watch.

It dives from great heights and crashes into the water,

only to emerge seconds later with a mouthful

of what will eventually become its dinner.


These large, up to about 50 inches, water birds, have a

nearly 7 foot wing span and weigh between 8 to 10 pounds.

They may live up to 20 years, but many die early from starvation.

They have a large dark bill and a rather large pouch

with which to gather their food.


The Brown Pelican is the smallest of the Pelicans.

There are 8 Pelican species in the world, there are 2 in Florida,

the Brown and the White.


The species is said to have existed for over 30 million years.


Brown Pelicans make few, if any sounds, except for their young,

who make quite a bit, when they are in the nest.


And if you ask anyone who has seen them,

this gathering of food is exactly what makes

the Brown Pelican such a spectacular sight.

A Brown Pelican
A Brown Pelican
Photo credit: NPS/Rodney Cammauf


The Brown Pelican can be found along the shorelines

of both the East and West Coasts of the U.S.

Having lived in both of these areas, I have been

lucky enough to have spent many years enjoying

their dramatic crashes into the water after their food.


Driving along a Coastline one can frequently see the Pelicans

flying directly overhead as if they are following you.


Driving from Ponce Inlet to Daytona Beach and on north to Flagler,

Pelicans will be above you the entire way.

We have sat outside in Flagler Beach having breakfast and

counted as many as 22 flying along the shoreline above our heads.

What a wonderful way to start the day!


Pelicans are so beautiful and yet so fragile.

Humans have not been kind to them with respect

to where they live, feed and breed.


In California for years, Pelicans were treated quite beastly,

with crimes so unspeakable, that they cannot be written.

It would appear that there were just as many

incidents happening on the East Coast as well.

Brown Pelicans were guilty of being in direct competition

with fishermen who felt it was their right to

commit these horrific acts.


Earlier the widespread use of DDT had nearly wiped

them out due to egg failure and destruction.

DDT as it was proved, makes the shells of birds so thin,

that they crack and the babies die before they can be born.

This toxic chemical made a victim of the Brown Pelican,

just as it did the Bald Eagles and other Birds.

Brown Pelicans at Ponce Inlet Florida
Brown Pelicans at Ponce Inlet, Florida
Photo credit: Jake N.


With DDT finally out of the way, the only thing that can harm

them now is Man and his insatiable appetite for Coastal living.

All those pretty Condos and lavish Hotels on the Beaches

have claimed many lives, they are called Wildlife.

And Birds are just one of the Species

whose waterfront homes have been lost.


A wonderful description of the Brown Pelican by John Audubon:

The Brown Pelican

Places to learn more:


Bird Intelligence

The Brown Pelican



Brown Pelican



Brown Pelican Fact Sheet

Brown Pelicans

Wildlife Viewing


Museum of Science - Miami

Everglades - Brown Pelican


Nature Works

Brown Pelican



Brown Pelican



Brown Pelican


Brown Pelicans



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Educating Visitors About Florida's Wildlife Since August 5, 2008

Last edited September 11, 2022

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