Breeding & Nesting Habits
Marks Breeding Season
Most of the
year, the heads and necks of brown pelicans are white.
During the breeding season, the heads acquire a distinctive yellow
color, and the sides and back of the neck turn dark reddish-brown.
After courtship is over, the neck and head return to white.
typically nest in colonies consisting of several hundred,
sometimes several thousand birds. Mangroves are a favorite
habitat, but the birds make do with other trees or, if nothing else
is available, by nesting on the ground.
location, the nest is intended to be well above the storm surge
and away from the reach of predators, such
A female usually
lays between two and three eggs in her large, bulky
nest; one clutch a year is normal. The eggs, white-colored
and about the size of a jumbo chicken eggs, hatch in about a month.
Both parents take turn incubating.
chicks emerge only with a thin white fuzz and no feathers.
Until feathers appear, the chicks have to rely on their parents' body
heat for warmth. Once feathers are present, the chicks actively
try to walk on their webbed feet, move their wings and practice holding
up their large head.
turns collecting and regurgitating
food. Feedings may occur up to a half-dozen times a day. The chicks
are voracious eaters. They plunge so deeply inside
a parent's pouch that at one time it was believed the chick's were actually
feeding on blood from the parent's breast.
This is why
the pelican was used in some Christian religious paintings as
a symbol of the atonement, the reconciliation of man and God through
Christ's sacrificial death.
Schooling of Chicks
Brown pelican chicks spend little time in the nest, only about five
weeks. During this period, the fledglings learn to
fly by standing at the size of the nest and imitating their
parent, whom typically is standing on a nearby tree
branch flapping its own wings. Soon, the youngsters will practice their
flying by winging and stepping from one tree branch to another.
also teach fledglings the necessary skill for dive-bombing
fish. Parents take this very seriously and they have been known to interrupt
a youngster's diving practice in mid-flight if the form is badly off.
The watery impact could possibly damage or even break
a wing while a young bird is learning, but it seems to rarely happen.
To Next Page
(Dangers & Threats to Brown Pelicans)
Brown Pelicans Feed
To How Brown Pelicans Fly
to See Nesting Brown Pelicans
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