Dalmatian pelican

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The Dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus crispus) belongs to the family Pelecanidae. The Dalmatian pelican species is distributed in Indian Subcontinent, Central Europe, Mediterranean region, Russia, Mongolia and East China.

Taxonomy of Dalmatian pelican

  • Scientific Name: Pelecanus crispus
  • Common Name: Dalmatian pelican
  • French: Pélican frisé; German: Krauskopfpelikan; Spanish: Pelícano ceñudo;
  • Other names: Silver pelican;
  • Family: Pelecanidae › Pelecaniformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Species author: Bruch, 1832
Pelecanus crispus species is considered closely related to P. philippensis, P. rufescens and P. conspicillatus.

Indian birds - Dalmatian pelican - Pelecanus crispus
Indian birds - Dalmatian pelican - Pelecanus crispus


The Dalmatian pelican species is a very large bird, measuring 160 to 180 cm in length and weighing 10,000 to 13,000 grams. The wingspan is 300 to 350 cm. The bill is 350 to 450 mm long. The upper parts and tail are chalky, silvery white in the breeding adult pelican. The bare skin around the eyes in yellow to purple. The wings are greyish white with black tips. It has curly nape feathers and grey legs. The gular pouch is orange-red during the breeding season and yellow during non-breeding season.


The Dalmatian pelican is found in lakes, rivers, deltas and estuaries. The breeding population prefers water bodies surrounded by reed beds and dense vegetation. The birds under migration prefer large lakes for stopover.

Feeding habits

These Dalmatian pelican species feed mainly on fish. They also feed on crustaceans and small birds.


The breeding season is in March and April. These pelican species are monogamous. The nest is constructed on the ground on plant matter. The nest may also be on floating matter or on small islands to avoid predation.


These Dalmatian pelican species breed in Serbia, Greece, Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iran and China. They disperse to Mediterranean region, Iraq, Indian Subcontinent and East China.

Movement Patterns

European Dalmatian pelican populations are dispersive and Asian populations are migratory. The southward movement starts from July. The return to breeding grounds is from January onwards.

Status and conservation

The global population of the Dalmatian pelican species is believed to be 10,000-13,900 individual birds. There had been a rapid decline of population in the last three generations. These species are threatened by habitat loss, fishing activity in the feeding grounds, poaching of chicks and eggs, agricultural pollutants and silting up of water bodies. The status of these species is vulnerable.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated these pelican species and has listed them as "Vulnerable".

Biological classification of Pelecanus crispus
Species:P. crispus
Binomial name:Pelecanus crispus
Distribution:Indian Subcontinent, Asia, Southeast Asia and Europe;
Feeding habits:frogs, crustaceans, small birds and fish;
IUCN status listing:

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Image source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Pelikaan,_Pelican,_Pelecanidae,_Diergaarde_Blijdorp_Rotterdam,_december_2007.jpg
Author: Pbrundel | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
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