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Great White Pelican | Pelecanus onocrotalus

The Great White Pelican is a Southern African bird that belongs to the Pelecanidae bird family group which includes birds such as Pelicans.

The description for the Great White Pelican (Latin name Pelecanus onocrotalus) can be found in the 7th Edition of the Roberts Birds of Southern Africa. The Pelecanus onocrotalus can be quickly identified by its unique Roberts identification number of 49 and the detailed description of this bird is on page 614. You will find a picture of the Great White Pelican on page 576.

NOTE: The reference for the information following is "Roberts Birds of Southern Africa", 7th Edition*. This edition contained a number of taxonomic changes as well as changes to English names used traditionally and in earlier editions of most bird books in South Africa. The following paragraph notes such changes if any.

This bird is known as White Pelican in the Roberts 6th Edition. There have been no changes in the Latin name for the Great White Pelican between the Roberts 6th and Roberts 7th Edition

The Great White Pelican is known in Afrikaans as Witpelikaan.

The Great White Pelican has a height of 140 cms and weighs around 11000 gms. The head is coloured white while the bill is coloured yellow. The Pelecanus onocrotalus has a grey coloured throat, yellow legs and a white coloured back. The eyes are brown.

Take note of the bird's main distinguishing features such as colour, size and leg length relative to the body size of the bird. Colours of a bird's body parts can be helpful. Be aware what may appear brown to one person is described in Roberts Birds using some other word ... for example brown, black. See colours used in Roberts.

Head is white

Eyes are brown

Bill is yellow

Legs are yellow

Throat is grey

Back is white

Feeding Habits ...

This bird has a specially adapted bill which helps it hunt for fish, crabs, shrimp and other aquatic animals in the water.

The Pelecanus onocrotalus forages mainly on the ground or at the base of trees, and low down in the shrubs eating mostly fruits and seeds.

Breeding, Habitat and Nesting Habits ...

The Great White Pelican is a monogamous bird which means that the bird finds and breeds with one partner for the rest of its life. The bird lays between 1 to 4 eggs and they are coloured white.

The bird builds its nest on the ground with figs, straw and leaves. The nest is placed under a bush to protect the young from predators.

The Great White Pelican is found in the Southern African wetlands, riverine forests and moist grasslands.

The bird is at home in riverine forests and close to water bodies such as lakes, dams and streams

You can see the Great White Pelican bird on coastal regions and on the sea shore where the bird will be foraging with other birds

Seen in Flocks, Singles or Pairs Normally ...

The reference for the information following is "Roberts Birds of Southern Africa", 7th Edition * edited by PAR Hockey, WRJ Dean and PG Ryan, published by "The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund."

copyright: Tony Roocroft +27-11-454-0105

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