Birds of North America Home Page

Field Guide for all the Birds of North America

Brown Pelican

Pélican brun

Pelecanus occidentalis

Information, images and range maps on over 1,000 birds of North America, including sub-species, vagrants, introduced birds and possibilities


There are two sub-species of the Brown Pelican. One is the Brown Pelican (Pacific) and as the name indicates is found along the western coast of the states bordering the Pacific Ocean. This pelican is considered threatened and is in a state of recovery. The other is the Brown Pelican (Atlantic), which is the more common of the two. It is found along the Atlantic coastlines and into the Gulf of Mexico. It can also be found throughout the Caribbean islands.

  • Summer
  • Year Around
  • Winter
range map

The Brown Pelican is one the largest seabirds found in North America. Although they may seem awkward when observed on land, the pelicans can soar without effort. They are recognized by their head-on dives straight into the sea to capture fish and using their large lower bills to hold their prey. When one travels along the coast, it is common to see them perched on street lights and piers.

Click on the bird images or names to see pictures of the sub-spieces

References to Other Bird Sites:

Avibase - the world bird database This site provides the user with a complete list of bird species, broken down per country, or in the example of the US or Canada, per state and province. Here, bird species names are available in other languages, a great asset to be used as a translation of foreign bird names.

ABA - American Birding Association This site represents an organization that maintains official records of all birds species that have been proven to have been seen inside the perimeters of the North American Continent and the surrounding bodies of water. Regular revised versions are posted to keep the bird list current at all times. This is the list used by all serious birders over their lifetime. You may be aware of the movie called the "Big Year". It was with this list that all the competing birders used in an attempt to set a new record as to how many bird species that could be seen by an individual birder in one calendar year.

I hope you will take advantage of these suggested websites. I have used each of them, in one way or another, throughout the years in my quest to better identify and understand our fine feathered friends.

Classic Collection of North American Birds