Wild life and nature of Samos, Ikaria & Fournoi

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Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus)


The Dalmatian Pelican has a length between 160 to 180cm, and can weigh between 10kg to 12kg. It is the rarest pelican worldwide and is possibly one of the largest freshwater bird. They are also noted to have one of the largest wingspans in the world and may be the world’s heaviest flying bird species. To distinguish from the White Pelican, they have greyer plumage, less prominent black feathers tips on their wings and underwing is faded. They have curlier feathers on their nape, loose feathers on their crown that can drop on their face and have grey legs.In flight, the Dalmatian Pelican have their necks tucked into their body and fly gracefully in the sky as they are looking at for food.The behaviour to feeding is displayed by dunking their head underwater to scoop the fish out, after which the water is dumped out the sides of the pouch and the fish is then swallowed.


The Dalmatian Pelican lives at large freshwater marshes and shallow coastal waters, like the White Pelican, but also on smaller waters in hilly areas.


The Dalmatian Pelican primarily feed on fish and can engulf fish up go 50cm long using their pouch-like mouths, which can also hold their prey for later consumption. Its diet can also include crustaceans, beetles, and small water birds (i.e. ducks) that are usually nestlings and eggs.The Dalmatian Pelican have a preference on the common carp, eels, catfish, northern pike, etc.

Protection Status 

This species is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List.

Interesting facts

The largest remnant colony can be found in Greece and have been seen to prey on the native Alburnus belvica, (a vulnerable species on the IUCN Red List), an endemic species of fish found in Lake Prespa in the Balkans.The Dalmatian Pelican may occasionally cooperate with Great Black Cormorants while fishing in Greece.

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