Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Pelecaniformes Pelecanidae

Scientific Name: Pelecanus occidentalis
Species Authority: Linnaeus, 1766
Common Name(s):
English Brown Pelican
Taxonomic Source(s): del Hoyo, J., Collar, N.J., Christie, D.A., Elliott, A. and Fishpool, L.D.C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions BirdLife International.
Taxonomic Notes: Pelecanus occidentalis and P. thagus (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) previously lumped into P. occidentalis following SACC (2005), are now considered distinct species following SACC (2007).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Ekstrom, J., Butchart, S., Temple, H., Calvert, R.
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Previously published Red List assessments:
2009 Least Concern (LC)
2008 Least Concern (LC)
2006 Not Recognized (NR)
2004 Least Concern (LC)
2000 Least Concern (LC)
1994 Least Concern (LC)
1988 Least Concern (LC)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is found in the Americas, breeding along the Pacific coast from California (USA) to Chile and along the Atlantic coast from South Carolina (USA) through the West Indies to Venezuela, ranging as far as Canada and Tierra del Fuego (Chile) in the non-breeding season (del Hoyo et al. 1992).
Countries occurrence:
Anguilla; Antigua and Barbuda; Aruba; Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Bermuda; Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (Saba, Sint Eustatius); Brazil; Canada; Cayman Islands; Chile; Colombia; Costa Rica; Cuba; Curaçao; Dominica; Dominican Republic; Ecuador (Galápagos); El Salvador; French Guiana; Grenada; Guadeloupe; Guatemala; Guyana; Haiti; Honduras; Jamaica; Martinique; Mexico; Montserrat; Nicaragua; Panama; Peru; Puerto Rico; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Saint Martin (French part); Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; Sint Maarten (Dutch part); Suriname; Trinidad and Tobago; Turks and Caicos Islands; United States; Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of; Virgin Islands, British; Virgin Islands, U.S.
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO): Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO): No
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2: 1920000
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO): Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO): No
Continuing decline in number of locations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations: No
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: (Wetlands International 2006)

Trend Justification:  The overall population trend is increasing, although some populations have unknown trends (Wetlands International 2006). This species has undergone a large and statistically significant increase over the last 40 years in North America (712% increase over 40 years, equating to a 68.8% increase per decade; data from Breeding Bird Survey and/or Christmas Bird Count: Butcher and Niven 2007) Note, however, that these surveys cover less than 50% of the species's range in North America.
Current Population Trend: Increasing
Additional data:
Continuing decline of mature individuals: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations: No Population severely fragmented: No
Continuing decline in subpopulations: Unknown
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations: No All individuals in one subpopulation: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This species inhabits shallow inshore waters, estuaries and bays, avoiding the open sea. Its diet is comprised mostly of fish, causing great congregations in areas with abundant prey. Prey species include sardines and anchovies, but has been seem to take shrimps and carrion, and even nestling egrets. It regularly feeds by plunge-diving and is often the victim of kleptoparasites. The timing of breeding varies depending on latitude, breeding in spring in the extreme north of its range compared to all year round in the tropics. Brown Pelicans are colonial, with some colonies being maintained over several years. It mostly nests on the ground, sometimes on cliffs and less often in small trees or bushes. Movements and migrations depend on local conditions (e.g. northern populations migrate south) (del Hoyo et al. 1992).
Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater; Marine
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: Unknown
Generation Length (years): 15
Movement patterns: Full Migrant
Congregatory: Congregatory (and dispersive)

Citation: BirdLife International. 2012. Pelecanus occidentalis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T22733989A40291104. . Downloaded on 07 October 2015.
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