pelican


pelican
/pel"i keuhn/, n.
1. any of several large, totipalmate, fish-eating birds of the family Pelecanidae, having a large bill with a distensible pouch.
2. a still or retort with two tubes that leave the body from the neck, curve in opposite directions, and reenter the body through the belly.
[bef. 1000; ME pellican, OE < LL pelicanus, var. of PELECAN < Gk pelekán]

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Any of about eight species constituting the genus Pelecanus (family Pelecanidae), white or brown birds distinguished by a large, elastic throat pouch.

Some species are 70 in. (180 cm) long, have a wingspan of 10 ft (3 m), and weigh up to 30 lbs (13 kg). Most species drive fish into shallow water and, using the pouch as a dip net, scoop them up and immediately swallow them. Pelicans inhabit freshwaters and seacoasts in many parts of the world; they breed in colonies on islands, laying one to four eggs in a stick nest. Chicks thrust their bills down the parent's gullet to obtain regurgitated food.

Brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis).

Norman Tomalin
Bruce Coleman Inc.

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bird
 any of seven or eight species of water birds constituting the family Pelecanidae (order Pelecaniformes), distinguished by their large, elastic throat pouches. Pelicans inhabit lakes, rivers, and seacoasts in many parts of the world. With some species reaching a length of 180 cm (70 inches), having a wingspan of 3 m (10 feet), and weighing up to 13 kg (30 pounds), they are among the largest of living birds.

  Pelicans eat fish, which they catch by using the extensible throat pouch as a dip-net. The pouch is not used to store the fish, which are swallowed immediately. One species, the brown pelican (P. occidentalis), captures fish by a spectacular plunge from the air, but other species swim in formation, driving small schools of fish into shoal water where they are scooped up by the birds.

 Pelicans lay one to four bluish white eggs in a stick nest, and the young hatch in about a month. The young live on regurgitated food obtained by thrusting their bills down the parent's gullet. The young mature at three to four years. Though ungainly on land, pelicans are impressive in flight. They usually travel in small flocks, soaring overhead and often beating their wings in unison. The sexes are similar in appearance, but males are larger.

      The best-known pelicans are the two species called white pelicans: Pelecanus erythrorhynchos of the New World, the North American white pelican, and P. onocrotalus of the Old World, the European white pelican. The smaller, 107–137-centimetre brown pelican (P. occidentalis) of the New World is a coastal species listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Though the brown pelican once bred in enormous colonies, its population declined drastically in the period 1940–70 as a result of DDT and related pesticides. The birds' breeding subsequently improved after DDT was banned.

      Pelicans usually breed in colonies on islands; there may be many small colonies on a single island. The gregarious North American white pelican breeds on islands in lakes in north-central and western North America; all pairs in any colony at any given time are in the same stage of the reproductive cycle. It is migratory, as are some other species. The brown pelican breeds along the tropical and subtropical shores of both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • pélican — [ pelikɑ̃ ] n. m. • 1210; lat. pelicanus, pelecanus, gr. pelekan ♦ Oiseau palmipède (pélécanidés), au bec très long, muni à la mandibule inférieure d une poche membraneuse dilatable, où il emmagasine la nourriture de ses petits. Le pélican blanc …   Encyclopédie Universelle

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  • pelican — PELICÁN, pelicani, s.m. Pasăre acvatică migratoare de talie mare, cu pene albe, cu cioc lung şi puternic, cu un sac elastic sub maxilarul inferior, în care adună peştii cu care se hraneşte; babiţă (Pelecanus onocrotalux). [var.: pelecán, s.m.] –… …   Dicționar Român

  • Pelican — Pel i*can, n. [F. p[ e]lican, L. pelicanus, pelecanus, Gr. ?, ?, ?, the woodpecker, and also a water bird of the pelican kind, fr. ? to hew with an ax, akin to Skr. para[,c]u.] [Written also {pelecan}.] 1. (Zo[ o]l.) Any large webfooted bird of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • PELICAN — PELICAN, one of the largest of water birds. Three species of the pelican (genus Pelecanus) are occasionally seen in Israel   in the nature preserve that was formerly part of the Ḥuleh swamps, as well as in fish ponds. The pelican may be the… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Pelican — bezeichnet: Pelican (Alaska), ein Fischerdorf in Alaska Pelican (Band), eine US amerikanische Post Metal Instrumentalband Siehe auch: Pelican Island Diese Seite ist eine Begriffsklärung …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Pelican — Pelican, AK U.S. city in Alaska Population (2000): 163 Housing Units (2000): 94 Land area (2000): 0.581030 sq. miles (1.504861 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.123706 sq. miles (0.320396 sq. km) Total area (2000): 0.704736 sq. miles (1.825257 sq. km) …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Pelican, AK — U.S. city in Alaska Population (2000): 163 Housing Units (2000): 94 Land area (2000): 0.581030 sq. miles (1.504861 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.123706 sq. miles (0.320396 sq. km) Total area (2000): 0.704736 sq. miles (1.825257 sq. km) FIPS code:… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • pelican — (n.) O.E. pellicane, from L.L. pelecanus, from Gk. pelekan pelican (so used by Aristotle), apparently related to pelekas woodpecker and pelekys ax, perhaps so called from the shape of the bird s bill. Used in Septuagint to translate Heb. qaath.… …   Etymology dictionary

  • pelican — m. pélican. voir ganta, grandgosier …   Diccionari Personau e Evolutiu

  • Pelican — Pelican, Vogel, so v.w. Pelekan …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon


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