Galapagos Pelican

galapagos pelican

Observing the Galapagos Pelican in flight is really a breathtaking experience you should not miss.

The Galapagos Brown Pelicans can be seen especially around the harbors of most Islands in Galapagos.


Their wingspan is of 90 inches and has an average size of around 40 inches in length.

The brown pelican has an exceptional and graceful flying, it elegantly soars to the sky with its wings wide open.

The pelican is also a plunge diver but it only does it superficially with not too much style as it happens with the Blue Footed Boobies

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Pelicans Feeding

For feeding purposes the Galapagos pelican hits the water with its beak open, the wings extended and almost like crushing on the surface of the water, but its tail and the two large feet never penetrates the water.

Because the pelican enters the water with its beak opened it manages to catch some fish but also a lot of water goes in its Gular Sac (or Pouch).

Then this bird sits down for a moment trying to remove the excess of water while at the same time it attempts to retain the fish.

That's why sometimes it loses some of its catch in this process. The juvenile pelicans feed from the adult pouches.

The scientific name of the brown pelican is Pelecanus occidentalis. It can be seen throughout the Islands in Galapagos mainly near the harbors.

You will see them always flying elegantly over the water, many time plunge diving and also resting in mangrove trees. The Galapagos pelicans are considered to be an endemic subspecies of the Pelican bird.

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Pelicans Nesting

In the Galapagos Islands the brown pelican usually nests in small colonies in mangrove forests. Their nests are not too fancy in structure using brushwood or branches for this purpose.

They lay their eggs usually between two or three and they both (male and female) share incubation for about four weeks. The Galapagos pelican does a great job when raising their chicks.

But unfortunately many baby birds die from starvation since the pelican's feeding technique is very hard to learn and be successfully accomplished by the young.

To differentiate adult pelicans from young you must look at their plumage. Adults have a white neck with a yellowish crown, their upper body is grey-brown and the lower body has a dark brown color.

Young pelicans have a brown body with grey beaks, grey faces, grey skin and legs.

The Pelicans belong to the Pelecaniformes family and it is the one that has the largest gular sac (pouch). Pelicans breed all over the year and one of the best locations to see them breeding is at Galapagos Rabida Island

Observing the neat flight of a group of pelicans almost skimming the surface of the water and all of them with their necks tucked back, waving their large wings with glides is a unique experience you will cherish for a long time.

The Galapagos pelican is one of the largest Birds in Galapagos but it is the smallest member of the Pelecaniformes family.

Birdwatching in Galapagos is one of the most rewarding experiences, so don't forget to bring your binoculars...

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If you have questions about the Galapagos Pelican, You can post them on our Galapagos FAQ Page and if you want to request more information about our recommended Galapagos Vacation Packages to visit these Islands, you can Contact us here

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