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The brown pelicans in Carnivore Kingdom arrived on June 12, 2014, from the Audubon Zoo, where they were rehabilitated after being injured in the wild. Both birds are estimated to have hatched between February 2013 to February 2014.
Snap: Male, cannot be returned to the wild due to a drooping left wing, which inhibits flight.
Crackle: Female, cannot be released into the wild due to a permanent injury to her right shoulder/elbow.
The pelicans are often fed near the end of the day, so visit them towards the end of your zoo visit.
The body is all brown with a white head and black feet. This is the only pelican species that is mostly brown in color. The bare parts of the bill pouch can color up during breeding turning a bright red. Their feet are short, set relatively far apart and all 4 toes are connected with webbing. This makes them very efficient swimmers but awkward walking on land.
Longevity in the wild is not well known but they can live to be over 30 years in captivity. Many brown pelicans in U.S. zoos come from wildlife rehabilitators and their exact ages are unknown.
This is the only pelican species that regularly feeds by plunge-diving; diving head down into the water with its bill open. They are usually found in large groups, breeding in colonies.
The brown pelican nests primarily on the ground in a small depression using little nesting material. Two to 3 eggs are laid and the chicks hatch out about 30 days later. Chicks fledge from the nest at around 63 days of age and are fed by the parents for another 2 weeks after fledging. Brown pelicans are sexually mature at about 2-3 years of age.
Brown pelicans range from 41- 60 in (105-152 cm) with a wingspan of 80- 90 in (203-228 cm).
Average 7.7 lb (3.5 kg) with the female slightly smaller than the male.
Brown pelicans are primarily picivorous, meaning they mainly eat fish. In the wild these birds consume fish they capture by diving from the air into the water. Occasionally the birds will also eat crustaceans. At the Zoo the birds are offered a variety of fish that includes smelt, capelin and their favorite trout. The diet is supplemented with vitamins and minerals important for fish eaters. Keepers typically toss the fish to the pelicans; the birds will catch the fish out of the air in their large pouch they then extend their necks to swallow.
Pacific coast of America from California (P.o. californicus) to Mexico and the Atlantic coast from S. Carolina to Venezuela (P.o. carolinensis). Occupies strictly marine habitats.
To learn more about the conservation efforts at the Philadelphia Zoo, click here.
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