Brown Pelican

  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Pelecaniformes

  • Family: Pelecanidae

  • Genus: Pelecanus

  • Species: P. occidentalis


This illustration of a Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) in flight was completed on August 28, 2018. The color version was completed on August 31, 2018. This drawing is based on a photograph I took during a pelagic birding trip in Los Angeles County waters in February 2016. 


The Brown Pelican is a familiar species found along the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines of much of North, Central, and northern South America, including the Galapagos Islands. It is one of three pelican species found in the Americas. Unlike the American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) which feeds from the surface of interior lakes, the Brown Pelican patrols the coastline either singly or in flocks and dives into the water for food. While Brown Pelicans are usually common within their range, they were heavily impacted by the effects of DDT and other chemicals and were listed under the United States Federal Endangered Species Act from 1970 to 2009.

  • Length: 39–60 in (1–1.52 m)
  • Wingspan: 80–90 in (2.03–2.28 m)
  • Weight: 4.4–11.0 lb (2–5 kg)
  • Habitat: Found on the Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific coasts of the Americas. Strictly a marine species, generally found within 20 miles of the coast. Sometimes found in mangrove swamps.
  • Food: The diet is comprised primarily of fish. Non-fish prey includes crustaceans, amphibians, and eggs and nestlings of other birds.
  • Reproduction: Monogamous within a breeding season. Nesting season peaks during March and April. Brown Pelicans are colonial nesters, with most colonies located on islands. Clutch size ranges from 2 to 4, with one brood per year.
  • Conservation Status: IUCN Red List - LC (Least Concern)
 Note: smaller islands where the species occurs are not highlighted.

Note: smaller islands where the species occurs are not highlighted.


14 inches x 17 inches


Pen and ink on paper (Staedtler pigment liner on Strathmore medium drawing paper)
Color version "painted" in Affinity Photo software.

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