Spot-billed pelican

   ›      ›   Spot-billed pelican - Pelecanus philippensis.

The spot-billed pelican (Pelecanus philippensis) belongs to the family Pelecanidae. The Spot-billed pelican species is distributed in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.

Taxonomy of Spot-billed pelican

  • Scientific Name: Pelecanus philippensis
  • Common Name: Spot-billed pelican
  • French: Pélican à bec tacheté; German: Graupelikan; Spanish: Pelícano oriental;
  • Other names: Pelecanus roseus; grey pelican;

    Family: Pelecanidae › Pelecaniformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Species author: Gmelin, 1789
Pelecanus philippensis species is considered closely related to P. crispus, P. rufescens and P. conspicillatus.

Indian birds - Spot-billed pelican - Pelecanus philippensis
Indian birds - Spot-billed pelican - Pelecanus philippensis


The spot-billed pelican species is a large bird measuring 125 to 150 cm in length and weighing 4,000 to 6,000 grams. The bill is 280 to 350 mm long. The adult pelican has a dull white head and neck. The feathers on the hind neck are curly and form a greyish nape crest. The tail is brownish. The pouch is pinkish with speckles. The upper mandible carries speckles. The tip of the bill is orange. The base of the bill is dark grey and the orbital patch is pink.


These spot-billed pelican species roost in trees near water bodies such as ponds, village tanks, lakes, streams and rivers.

Feeding habits

These spot-billed pelican species feed mainly on fish. They also feed on crustaceans and small birds.


The breeding season of these pelican species varies between October to May. In South India it coincides with the Northeast monsoon. They build nest on low trees. The nest may contain a clutch of three to four white eggs.


The breeding population of these pelican species is limited to India, Sri Lanka and Cambodia. In the non-breeding season they are recorded in Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.

Movement Patterns

The pelican species in South India are considered to be sedentary. Not much is known about their migratory movement. They may locally move for selecting feeding grounds.

Status and conservation

The global population of the spot-billed pelican species is believed to be 13,000 to 18,000 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. Considering the sharp decline in population, there is near threat in the survival of these pelican species.

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

Biological classification of Pelecanus philippensis
Species:P. philippensis
Binomial name:Pelecanus philippensis
Distribution:India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia;
Feeding habits:frogs, crustaceans, small birds and fish;
IUCN status listing:
Near Threatened

Popular posts in Birds of India

Image source:
Author: J.M.Garg | License: CC BY-SA 3.0
Current topic in Birds of India: Spot-billed pelican - Pelecanus philippensis.
Contact State Tourism or travel agents for bird watching and wildlife tours.