Dalmatian Pelican

(Pelecanus crispus)


Dalmatian Pelican IUCN VULNERABLE (VU)


Facts about this animal

This is the largest of all pelicans, measuring 160-180 cm from tip of bill to tip of tail, and a wing span of 310-345 cm. It has a broad and heavy body, long neck and large head with a huge long and broad bill. The feathers on head and neck are soft and curly. The wings are long and broad with 11 primaries. The tail is rounded with 22-24 feathers.

The colour of the plumage is generally greyish-white, tinged dirty blue below and alarge crop patch of straw-coloured feathers. The gular pouch is yellow, turing into orange or blood-red during breeding. The bare skin of the face is yellow, purple during breeding. Thwe legs are dark grey and the iris is yellow.

Dalmatian Pelicans are are excellent swimmers and also good fliers. They are less gregarious than the great white pelicans. They normally fish singly or in small groups of a few birds catching primarily carp (Cyprinus carpio), perch (Perca fluviatilis), end rudd (Scardinius erythrophthalmus), but also pike (Esox lucius), and eel (Anguilla anguilla). Communal fishing with cormorants may occur.

Dalmatian pelicans nest solitary or, more often, in colonies situated on an island, or remote parts of a large pan. Mixed colonies with great white pelicans may occur. The nest is a stick, reed or grass structure placed on the ground. The female lays mostly 2, occasionally 1-6 eggs weighing between 120 and 195g, which are incubated for 30-34 days. The young are cared for by both parents. They are able to fly when they are about 12 weeks old.

Did you know?
that the Dalmatian pelican, whose bill reaches 40 cm or more in length, is the largest pelican species in the world?


Class AVES
Name (Scientific) Pelecanus crispus
Name (English) Dalmatian Pelican
Name (French) Pélican dalmate
Name (German) Krauskopfpelikan
Name (Spanish) Pelícano Ceñudo
Local names Czech: Pelikán kaderavý
Greek: Argyropelekános
Hungarian: Borzas gödény
Italian: Pellicano riccio
CITES Status Appendix I
CMS Status Appendix I and II Included in AEWA




Range Breeds in eastern Europe and east-central Asia: Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Ukraine, Iran, Kazakhstan, possibly China and Iraq. Non-breeding in Bangladesh, Egypt, HongKong, India, Lebanon, Nepal, Pakistan, Syria, Turkey.
Habitat Mainly at inland, freshwater wetlands but also at coastal lagoons and river deltas
Wild population Approx. 4,350-4,800 in Black Sea and Mediterranean; 6,000-9,000 individuals in SE Asia and S Asia (2002) and 50 individuals in E. Asia (2005)(Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 423 reported to ISIS (2007)

In the Zoo

Dalmatian Pelican


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 21 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


Photo Copyright by
Marion Schneider & Christoph Aistleitner

Why do zoos keep this animal

The Dalmatian pelican is a vulnerable species, and European zoos undertake efforts to maintain a self-sustaining population under an EEP. In general, zoos keep the Dalmatian pelican primarily for educational reasons, because of evolutionary adaptation in morphology and behaviour to fish catching in social groups. It is also a good ambassador species for wetland conservation and for promoting the African-Eurasian Waterfowl Agreement.