Silhouette of an Australian pelican

Pelicans

Pelicans are well known for the large throat pouch they have attached to their lower beak. The pouch can hold over 10 litres of water and prey and in hot weather the pelicans flutter it to keep cool. Pelican chicks have no feathers or down when they hatch and take several weeks to grow their beaks to adult size.

Scientific name: Pelecanidae

Rank: Family

Watch video clips from past programmes (2 clips)

In order to see this content you need to have an up-to-date version of Flash installed and Javascript turned on.

Distribution

Map showing the distribution of the Pelicans taxa

The shading illustrates the diversity of this group - the darker the colour the greater the number of species. Data provided by WWF's Wildfinder.

The Pelicans can be found in a number of locations including: Africa, Asia, Australia, China, Europe, Indian subcontinent, North America, South America. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.

BBC News about Pelicans

Video collections

Take a trip through the natural world with our themed collections of video clips from the natural history archive.