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Pelicans are easy to identify because of the big pouch that hangs from their long bill. Learn how pelicans use this unique feature to catch their food and other facts about these large water birds.

Understanding Pelicans

Which type of bird uses its own special net to fish? If you guessed the pelican, you’re right!Pelicans are big birds with long bills that are hooked at the tip. Large pouches of skin hang down from their bills, and they use these pouches to scoop up fish from the water.

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Pelicans have pouches that hang down from their bills.

pelican

Their color varies between species, so you might see a white pelican or a grayish-brown pelican. They have short legs, so they waddle when they walk. Pelicans also have webbing between their toes that acts like flippers in the water. This makes them good swimmers.Pelicans are good flyers once they’re in the air, but lifting their big bodies off the ground is hard.

The great white pelican, which is the biggest pelican, can weigh 20 to 33 pounds. To get in the air, pelicans must beat their long wings as they run over the water until they have enough speed to take off.A pelican’s wingspan can be more than six and a half feet long, which makes their wings as wide as a pro basketball player is tall!

Pelicans have big wings.
Pelican parents take good care of their babies.
baby

It takes young pelicans a while to learn how to fish with their pouch, so for the first month or so, the parents feed the babies regurgitated, or thrown up, food out of their gullet or throat.

That sounds like some yucky baby food!Pelicans can live to be 15 to 25 years old in the wild.

Lesson Summary

Pelicans are water birds with large pouches that hang down from their long bills. Pelicans use the pouches to scoop fish out of the water. The color of pelicans depends on the species, but they all have short legs, webbed feet, and large wings.

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