Wild life and nature of Samos, Ikaria & Fournoi

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Great White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus)


This is a very well-known bird, and is instantly recognisable for many reasons. One of them is its large size; measuring between 140 and 180 cm, with a wingspan around 226-360 cm. The main identifying feature of this bird is its huge, wide bill, often over 40 cm long by itself. Its plumage is mainly white, with black showing on the wingtips during flight. It also has a yellow breast patch. Females are quite a bit smaller than males. The great White Pelican is highly sociable, often forming large flocks, and travel in a V type of formation whilst flying elegantly, with the head held close to, and aligned with the body.


The feeding style of this bird demands shallow water, so it can usually be found on lakes, marshes and swamps, as well as saline habitats of coastlines.


This bird is a fish eater, and is able to catch large prey such as carp using its enormous bill. It does this by plunging its bill in the water, acting like a net, scooping the fish out of the water and swallowing it whole.

Protection Status

This species is listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.

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