Birdlife - pelicans at Kangaroo Island - Credit: SATC

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Australian Pelican

  • SUMMARY

The Australian Pelican is a large water bird, widespread on the inland and coastal waters of Australia and New Guinea, also in Fiji, parts of Indonesia and as a vagrant to New Zealand. Australian Pelicans are medium-sized by pelican standards: 1.6 to 1.8m long with a wingspan of 2.3 to 2.5m and weighing 4 to 10 kilograms. They are predominantly white with black along the primaries of the wings. The pale, pinkish bill is enormous, even by pelican standards, and is the largest bill in the avian world. The record-sized bill was 49 cm (19.5 inches) long. Australian Pelicans prefer large expanses of open water without too much aquatic vegetation. The surrounding environment is unimportant: it can be forest, grassland, desert, mudflats, an ornamental city park, or industrial wasteland, provided only that there is open water able to support a sufficient supply of fish. They follow no particular schedule of regular movement, simply following the availability of food supplies.