Back to list

Dalmatian pelican

Pelecanus crispus

Photo: Dalmatian pelican
Weights and measures
Length 170 cm
Weight from 11 to 15 kg
Wingspan 3 m
State of endangerment
Animal description
The Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus) is a remarkable bird species, both in terms of its size and appearance, belonging to the pelican family. It stands as one of the largest freshwater bird species in the world and is easily recognizable by its distinctive features. This majestic bird has a commanding presence, with an impressive wingspan that can reach up to 3 meters (about 10 feet), making it one of the largest of the pelican species. Its body length varies from 160 to 183 centimeters (63 to 72 inches), and it weighs between 11 and 15 kilograms (24 and 33 pounds), with some individuals even reaching up to 20 kilograms (44 pounds).

The plumage of the Dalmatian Pelican is predominantly a silvery-white, with a unique, curly nape feather giving it a somewhat tousled appearance, from which its species name 'crispus' (meaning curly or wavy in Latin) is derived. During the breeding season, this pelican exhibits a subtle color change, with the feathers on the back of its head turning into a shade of grey. Its bill is long and robust, colored a striking yellow, and features a large gular pouch underneath, which is used for catching fish. This pouch can hold more than its stomach can, demonstrating the bird's efficient fishing technique. The legs and webbed feet of the Dalmatian Pelican are greyish-white, blending seamlessly with its overall color scheme.

Dalmatian Pelicans are found across a wide range, from southeastern Europe to Russia and China, inhabiting freshwater lakes, deltas, and estuaries. Despite their large size, these birds are excellent fliers, capable of gliding gracefully for long distances, thanks to their massive wings. They are also skilled swimmers, though they tend to be more buoyant than their brown pelican cousins.

Their diet mainly consists of fish, which they catch by working in groups to herd fish into shallow waters before scooping them up in their voluminous pouches. This social species often forms large flocks, especially during the breeding season, when they build nests on the ground in isolated, marshy areas.

The Dalmatian Pelican is a species of concern due to habitat loss, water pollution, and human disturbance, which have led to a decline in its population. It is listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Conservation efforts are in place in several countries to protect this magnificent bird, focusing on habitat restoration, protection from poaching, and minimizing human disturbance.

In summary, the Dalmatian Pelican is an awe-inspiring bird, both in size and beauty. Its unique physical characteristics, coupled with its graceful flight and social behavior, make it a fascinating subject of study and conservation. Despite facing threats from human activity and environmental changes, efforts to preserve its habitats offer hope for the future of this magnificent species.
New photos of animals