Brown Pelicans Facts Information - How They Fly and Dive

Brown Pelicans
How They Fly & Dive

You can see them on every coast





Florida Everglades


Clumsy on Land, Graceful in Flight

A squadron of brown pelicans in flight is one of nature's grandest beach scenes. It is remarkable enough that the birds are able to follow each other in a perfect single file or V-formation. But their ability to flap their wings in perfect synchronization makes them seem telepathically linked.

Furthhermore, the ability of such a bulky bird to glide effortlessly, for minutes at a time, hundreds of feet above the surf, looks like a violation of the laws of aerodynamics.

Brown pelicans owe much of their aerial grace to their oversized wings, which in design are more akin to those of vultures than to the cormorants and gannets to which brown pelicans are related.

The wing spread of a brown pelican ranges between 80 and 85 inches in an adult, compared to an overall body length of 45 to 55 inches.

Typically, a brown pelican's neck is about as long as its body. In flight, the neck provides a resting place for the bird's large head, leaving the long billto protrude ahead like a directional rod.

A bird of grace in the air, the brown pelican is like a drunkard when it walks on land. Its big webbed feet, so ideal for paddling in the waves, are set too far back on the body for anything but awkward walking.

Of all the brown pelican's antics, none is more spectacular than its head-long dive into the ocean in search of mullet or other fish schooling near the surface.

To Next Page (How Brown Pelicans Feed)

To Brown Pelican Breeding & Nesting

To Where to See Nesting Brown Pelicans

To Dangers & Threats to Brown

To Florida Wildlife & Animals Home