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(vertebrate zoology)
An order of aquatic, fish-eating birds characterized by having all four toes joined by webs.



an order of swimming birds. The legs are short, with all four toes united by a natatorial web. The order includes six families: gannets and boobies, tropic birds, frigate birds, cormorants, darters and anhingas, and pelicans. These birds inhabit the shores of oceans and seas and the banks of large rivers and lakes over almost all the terrestrial globe, except for the polar regions. In the USSR there are representatives of two families: cormorants (six species) and pelicans (two species). The most numerous colonies of cormorants and pelicans are found on the shores of the Caspian and Aral seas; large colonies of cormorants are found in the Far East (Pacific coast).

Pelecaniformes birds feed mainly on fish. Cormorants and anhingas are excellent swimmers and divers; gannets and tropic birds dive, throwing themselves into the water from flight (they swim reluctantly); pelicans swim well but cannot dive. Pelicans, frigate birds, and gannets are capable of soaring. Most of the birds in this order move poorly on the ground. Their nests are usually near the water (cormorants’ nests are on trees and rocks; pelicans’ are on reed-overgrown banks). They nest in large colonies. Both females and males sit on the eggs. The fledglings are hatched blind and naked, and they grow slowly. On some tropical islands where there are colonies of Pelecaniformes, deposits of guano are formed. In the south of the USSR in some places cormorants harm the fishing industry; in some places they are used in small quantities commercially for their meat.


Tugarinov, A. Ia. “Veslonogie, aistoobraznye, flamingo.” In Fauna SSSR: Ptitsy, vol. 1, issue 3. Moscow-Leningrad, 1947.