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.
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
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.
Page (How Brown Pelicans Feed)
Pelican Breeding & Nesting
to See Nesting Brown Pelicans
& Threats to Brown
To Florida Wildlife & Animals Home