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About Pink-backed Pelican (Click-Readmore)


Scientific name: Pelecanus rufescens
Higher classification: Pelican
Phylum: Chordata
Order: Pelecaniformes
Mass: 5.4 kg
Conservation status: Least Concern


Pink-backed Pelican is one of the smallest of the 8 species in the pelican family, but is still a very large bird. It has a pale greyish plumage, with pinkish back. Its dusky grey flight feathers contrast with the whitish wing coverts. Adult upper wing pattern shows pale greyish or pinkish grey coverts, contrasting with dark grey flight feathers. They have dark grey wingtips. Legs are variable in colour, ranging from grey to yellow or reddish orange, becoming pinkish red in breeding season. They have webbed feet.


Pink-backed Pelican favours freshwater and saline lakes and lagoons, open water in marshes, mangrove creeks and sheltered coastal waters. It is a resident breeder in the swamps and shallow lakes of Africa, southern Arabia, and southern India. It has also apparently extirpated in Madagascar.


Pink-backed Pelican feeds mostly on fish. They feed various food items with also small invertebrates and amphibians. They can move into drier areas to feed on locusts. Pink-backed Pelican may eat up to a kilogram of food in a day.


They generally fish in groups, forming a line to surround a shoal of fish. They plunge their heads at the same time, to frighten and confuse the fish, and they scoop up in their pouches. Their beaks can hold up to 8 litres of water and fish.


Pink-backed Pelican breeds all year round, mostly starting at the end of the rainy season. They nest in colonies from 20 to 500 pairs. The large nest is made with sticks in tree. Female lays 2 to 3 large white eggs. Incubation lasts about 30 days. To feed, the chicks plunge their heads deep into the parental throat pouch, to take partially digested regurgitated fish.