The Australian Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus) is a large, water bird, living in wetlands.
The Australian Pelican is mostly white, with black wings. It has a white panel on the upper wing and a white V-shape on its back. It has a very large pale-pink beak with a pale-pink pouch. Its eye-ring is pale-yellow. Its eye-ring turns yellow-orange, and the beak changes colour to blue, pink, or red, in the breeding season. Its beak has a small hook at the tip. Its eyes are brown and yellow and its feet are blue-grey, with four webbed toes.
It grows to about 180 centimetres (71 inches) tall. Its beak is huge, measuring 50 centimetres (20 inches) long. It is the largest beak of any bird in the world. It has a wingspan of 230 centimetres (90.5 inches).
It is common on Australian coastal waters and wetlands, on large bodies of water, such as lakes, reservoirs, rivers, estuaries, and swamps.
It mainly eats fish, but will also eat birds and insects. It sits and on the surface of the water and dives below to catch a fish. Its beak can hold 9-13 litres of water.
It is a large bird, but it has a light skeleton, which enables it to fly easily. The flocks of pelicans form a V-shape when flying.
It lives in large flocks of about a thousand individuals. It often makes its nest in a shallow depression on mudflats, sandbars, beaches, reefs, and piers. It nests in colonies. Females lay 1-4 white eggs, which hatch after 32-35 days.
The chicks are naked when they are born, although they quickly grow grey down feathers. This is called altricial. For the first two weeks, the parents feed their chicks with regurgitated liquid, but for the remaining two months they get fish. The young pelicans gain all of their feathers at around three months of age.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM