• Brown’s in Town: North America is home to two pelican species — the American white pelican and the brown pelican. Only the brown pelican is found in the Bay watershed, though.
  • The Naked Truth About Molting: Pelicans are “synchronous molters,” which means they replace all of their feathers in a short period of time during which they are unable to fly. This trait is not unusual in birds that are heavy relative to their wingspan, and for which the loss of only a few feathers at a time would affect their ability to fly. It is thought that, in the long run, it is safer for these species to be vulnerable to predators for a short time as opposed to a longer period of compromised flight.
  • More Than Their Belly Can: A pelican’s pouch can hold about 3 gallons of water.
  • Fish Filter: The pelican does not use its beak to carry fish. Instead, its pouch is used to separate the fish from the water that is collected when the bird scoops up its dinner.
  • Noisy Nestlings: Adult brown pelicans may be silent, but their yappy youngsters are able to emit loud grunts and screams.
  • No Cold Feet Here: Incubating pelicans are able to transfer heat to their eggs through their feet.
  • A Drop to Drink: Pelicans have been known to drink by holding their beaks open when it rains.
  • Steep Sea Divers: Because of their many air sacs, hollow bones and the air trapped in their feathers, brown pelicans are very buoyant. That is why they must dive from great heights to catch their food: They need the velocity picked up during these plunges to create the momentum that will push them under the water.
  • Name Dropper: The pelican’s name comes from the Greek word for “woodpecker” or any bird with a big beak.