Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.
(pelicans), a family of birds of the order Pelecaniformes. The body ranges in length from 130 to 180 cm. The bill has a large gular pouch. The wings are broad, the tail is short, and the feet are webbed. The plumage is gray, brown, or white with a pink tinge; the flight feathers are dark.
There is one genus of pelicans, embracing eight species, distributed in the temperate and tropical zones of all continents. Two species, the Old World white pelican (P. onocrotalus) and the Dalmatian pelican (P. crispus), are found in the USSR, in the Volga Delta, Ciscaucasia, Middle Asia, Kazakhstan, and southwestern Siberia. Pelicans inhabit seashores and large lakes. They fly well and are capable of soaring, but, because of their pneumatic skeleton, they are unable to submerge. Thus, the birds feed primarily on fish found in shallow water. Only the brown pelican (P. occidentalis) dives by falling from above. Pelicans live in colonies. They nest in reed thickets, on the ground, or in trees. A clutch contains one to four white eggs. Because they prey on fish, pelicans may cause losses to the fishing industry.