Fun Dalmatian Pelican Facts For Kids

Joan Agie
May 02, 2023 By Joan Agie
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Shikha Sharma
One of the largest flying birds, check out the Dalmatian pelican facts.

One of the world's heaviest flying birds, the Dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus crispus), makes for an impressive sight as it soars in the skies in flocks. Its silvery-gray plumage, the bright orange bill, and the sheer size of the Dalmatian pelican wingspan tell a lot about its grandeur.

Native to the Black Sea, the Dalmatian pelican is a diurnal migratory bird and travels from Europe, the Mediterranean to Russia, and the Taiwan Strait.

The Dalmatian pelican is the largest among all the eight pelican species and is often mistaken as a Great white pelican. Check out for black feathers at the tip of the wings, which is one of the characteristics of the Dalmatian pelicans that distinguishes it from the Great white pelicans.

Like other pelican species, the Dalmatian pelican also lives and migrates in flocks.

Although it shares its name with the Dalmatian breed of dogs, there is nothing in common between them. In this article, we share lots of fun information about these eccentric bird species, so read on and don't forget to check out our articles about the Stork and the Australian Pelican.

Dalmatian Pelican Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Dalmatian Pelican?

A Dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus crispus) is a freshwater bird. It is a migratory bird and travels short to medium distances for breeding and wintering.

What class of animal does a Dalmatian Pelican belong to?

A Dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus crispus) belongs to the class Aves, order Pelecaniformes, family Pelecanidae, and genus Pelecanus.

How many Dalmatian Pelicans are there in the world?

The estimated population of Dalmatian pelicans in the world is about 10,000-13,900. Of these, about 6700-9300 are supposed to be mature birds.

Where does a Dalmatian Pelican live?

A Dalmatian pelican lives in freshwater wetlands, rivers, shallow lakes, coastal lagoons, swamps, and deltas. There are two regions where their population is significant. One is in southeastern Europe, and the other is in Russia and Central Asia. The former winters in the eastern Mediterranean region while the latter winters around the Indian subcontinent.

What is a Dalmatian Pelican's habitat?

A Dalmatian pelican's most preferred habitat is where it has ample sources of food. So, they are common around lakes, estuaries, river deltas, streams, and similar water bodies.

The Dalmatian pelicans are seen in large flocks in Mediterranean Greece and certain parts of Eastern Europe and Asia. During the winter season, they stay around ice-free likes in some parts of Europe and around some lakes in India.

Who do Dalmatian Pelicans live with?

The pelican family is typically highly social. However, the Dalmatian pelican is the least socially inclined among the lot. Compared to other pelican species, the Dalmatian pelican nests in small groups and sometimes is even seen to nest alone. However, when they migrate, they form pods of about 250 birds or more.

How long does a Dalmatian Pelican live?

The average lifespan of a Dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus crispus) is about 35 years. However, some are known to live as long as 54 years in managed care.

How do they reproduce?

Dalmatian pelicans are social birds, and they are serially monogamous, which means that they find a new mate every year. Breeding season varies as per the region, and in the West, it happens in March and April.

When the breeding season commences, these birds form breeding pairs. During courtship, the Dalmatian pelicans use vocal and visual signals to attract a mate.

After pairing, they build their nest, which is often a crude heap of reeds, sticks, and grass placed on dense vegetation with a source of their food nearby. The nest has an approximate depth of 3.3 ft and is 25 inches in diameter.

During the breeding season, the Dalmatian pelicans get territorial and defend their nests by breaking jabbing actions or vocalizing through hissing if any other bird comes near.

The typical clutch size is two to four eggs that are incubated for 31 days by both parents. For the first couple of weeks, the nestlings are dependent on their parents for food and care.

At about 60-90 days, fledging occurs, and they are about four months of age when they can hunt for food on their own. The Dalmatian pelicans are sexually mature when they are about 30 months of age.

What is their conservation status?

The 20th century witnessed a steep decline in their number due to the loss of habitat and relentless poaching by humans. Thanks to several conservation measures, the population of Dalmatian pelicans is stable in Russia; however, in the Mongolian range, it is still critically endangered. They are categorized as Near Threatened in the IUCN Red List.

Dalmatian Pelican Fun Facts

What do Dalmatian Pelicans look like?

The massive size of the Dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus crispus) is just one of the things that make it stand out. It is characterized by silvery gray-white plumage, a large orange gular pouch under its bill, curly nape feathers, and gray legs.

When they are in flight, their wingspan appears gray. During the winter season, their plumage loses its silvery sheen, and the color of their pouch turns yellow. In addition, the juvenile Dalmatian pelicans lack the pink facial patch that is present in the immature White pelicans.

How cute are they?

With the massive Dalmatian pelican size, giant bill, and impressive wingspan, they look majestic.

How do they communicate?

The Dalmatian pelican, like the other pelican bird species, is typically the quiet kind. However, during the breeding season, they are seen to be quite vocal and exhibit guttural barks, grunts, and hisses to communicate.

How big is a Dalmatian Pelican?

A Dalmatian pelican is among the largest flying birds on the planet. Its average length is around 63 -72 in (160-183 cm) with an impressive wingspan of 114-136 in (290-345 cm) and is 70 in tall, which puts it in the league of other giant birds like the Trumpeter Swans, and great Albatrosses.

How fast can a Dalmatian Pelican fly?

A Dalmatian pelican can fly at about 40 mph (64.4 kph). The elegance of these birds is evident when they fly in a flock with graceful synchrony. When in flight, they held their necks back like herons.

How much does a Dalmatian Pelican weigh?

The average weight of a Dalmatian pelican lies in the range of 16-33 lb (7.3-15 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

With no different names for the males and females of the species, they are typically referred to as male Dalmatian pelicans and female Dalmatian pelicans, respectively.

What would you call a baby Dalmatian Pelican?

A baby Dalmatian pelican is typically referred to as a chick or nestling.

What do they eat?

The primary diet of a Dalmatian pelican consists of fish. Common carp, European perch, eels, mullet, common rudd, and pike, are the most commonly consumed variety of fish.

Other water creatures like small water birds, amphibians, worms, and crustaceans also supplement their diet. Typically, the Dalmatian pelican forages for food alone or in a group of two or three. It moves slowly towards its prey and uses its gular pouch as a net to scoop the prey along with lots of water.

Then, they swallow the fish and drain the water from the sides. The prey is sometimes stored in its orange-red lower mandible pouch for later consumption.

Are they dangerous?

A Dalmatian pelican is known to fight back when provoked. Given their huge size, you wouldn't want to mess with them.

Would they make a good pet?

A Dalmatian pelican is a wild seabird and has not been domesticated in any way. It is illegal to keep this species of bird as a pet.

Did you know...

Humans are the biggest threat to this species of bird. During the 1980s, only an estimated 1000 birds were left.

The steep decline was due to habitat loss, pesticide use, and illegal hunting by fishermen as they viewed this bird as a cause of depleting fish stock that hurt their business. While the species is still vulnerable, conservation efforts in the past few decades have helped, and their population has seen a good rise.

How many fish do Dalmatian Pelicans eat?

An adult Dalmatian pelican can eat four pounds of fish every day. Well, that's quite a lot, but for a bird that size, you can't expect less.

How many species of Pelican are there?

Dalmatian pelicans are one of the eight species of pelicans. The other members of the Pelican species are Brown pelican, American white pelican, Spot-billed pelican, Peruvian pelican, Pink-backed pelican, Australian pelican, and Great white pelican.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our great hornbill facts, and Atlantic Puffin fun facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Dalmatian pelican coloring pages.

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Written by Joan Agie

Bachelor of Science specializing in Human Anatomy

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Joan AgieBachelor of Science specializing in Human Anatomy

With 3+ years of research and content writing experience across several niches, especially on education, technology, and business topics. Joan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Human Anatomy from the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria, and has worked as a researcher and writer for organizations across Nigeria, the US, the UK, and Germany. Joan enjoys meditation, watching movies, and learning new languages in her free time.

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Fact-checked by Shikha Sharma

Bachelor of Commerce

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Shikha SharmaBachelor of Commerce

Shikha has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Delhi. She also holds a Diploma in Information Technology, which has helped her acquire technical and design skills.

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