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American White Pelican

American White Pelican
(Courtesy NEBRASKAland Magazine/ NGPC)

Some beaks are big, with the ability to get bigger.

For example, the pelican has a pouch-like beak it can expand when it's trying to scoop up fish.

Brown Pelicans are known for diving into the water to catch fish. However, American White Pelicans float on the surface and scoop up fish as they swim by.

The pouch on the pelican's lower bill is usually folded up, but it can get bigger when the bird is fishing. A pelican's pouch can hold three gallons of water.

During a typical fishing trip, the pelican will start by filling its expanded pounch.

The pouch then contracts, and the water drains out. After the water drains out, the pelican swallows the fish left behind whole.

The American White Pelican uses its beak to scoop up fish. Sometimes, these birds will fish in semi-circular or circular groups so they can concentrate fish for easy feeding.

A pelican expands the pouch on its beak when it's fishing, and sometimes when it's stretching.

Otherwise, the pouch on its beak is folded up.

DID YOU KNOW? The scientific name of the American White Pelican is Pelecanus erythrorhynchos. Pelecanus is Latin for pelican, and erythrorhynchos is derived from the Greek words erythros meaning "red" and rhynchos meaning "beak."


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