Species Profile
Environmental Conservation Online System

Brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)

Kingdom: Animalia
Class: Aves
Order: Pelecaniformes
Family: Pelecanidae

Listing Status:   

General Information

The adult brown pelican is a large dark gray-brown water bird with white about the head and neck. Immatures are gray-brown above and on the neck, with white underparts. Although the Caribbean subspecies resembles the eastern subspecies, the Caribbean brown pelican has a darker non-breeding plumage above the surface. The Caribbean pelican usually also has a darker undersurface plumage during breeding than does the eastern brown pelican. Both subspecies can reach up to 8 pounds and larger individuals have wing spreads of over 7 feet.

Population detail

The FWS is currently monitoring the following populations of the Brown pelican 

Map of Species occurrence

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Map Image Map of Species occurrence Map of Species occurrence
Map of Species occurrence Map of Species occurrence

This map represents our best available information about where a species is currently known to or or is believed to occur; however, it should NOT be used as an official species list for Section 7 Consultation purposes. To obtain an official species list for this purpose, please visit the Information, Planning, and Conservation (IPaC) System (click here: http://ecos.fws.gov/ipac)

  • Population location: U.S. Atlantic coast, FL, AL
    Listing status:  Delisted due to Recovery
  • Population location: Entire, except U.S. Atlantic coast, FL, AL
    Listing status:  Delisted due to Recovery
    • States/US Territories in which this population is known to or is believed to occur:  Arizona , California , Louisiana , Mississippi , Oregon , Puerto Rico , Texas , Virgin Islands , Washington
    • US Counties in which this population is known to or is believed to occur:  View All
    • USFWS Refuges in which this population is known to occur:  ARANSAS NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, BANDON MARSH NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, BAYOU SAUVAGE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, BIG BOGGY NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, BIG BRANCH MARSH NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE  ... Show All Refuges
    • Countries in which the this population is known to occur:  Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Netherlands Antilles, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, Venezuela
    • For more information:  http://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/brown_pelican.pdf
Current Listing Status Summary
Status Date Listed Lead Region Where Listed
06/02/1970 Southeast Region (Region 4) U.S. Atlantic coast, FL, AL
06/02/1970 California/Nevada Region (Region 8) except U.S. Atlantic coast, FL, AL

» Federal Register Documents

Most Recent Federal Register Documents (Showing 5 of 14: view all)
Date Citation Page Title
11/17/2009 74 FR 59444 59472 Removal of the Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife; Final Rule
09/30/2009 74 FR 50236 50237 Draft Post-Delisting Monitoring Plan for the Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)
03/05/2008 73 FR 11945 11950 Initiation of 5-Year Reviews of 58 Species in California and Nevada; Availability of Completed 5-Year Reviews in California, Nevada and Southern Oregon
02/20/2008 73 FR 9408 9433 12-Month Petition Finding and Proposed Rule To Remove the Brown Pelican(Pelecanus occidentalis) From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife; Proposed Rule
09/14/2007 72 FR 52575 52576 Proposed Low Effect Habitat Conservation Plan for Washington Department of Natural Resources' Commercial Geoduck Fishery

» Recovery

Recovery Plan Information Search
Other Recovery Documents (Showing 5 of 7: view all)
Date Citation Page Title Document Type
11/17/2009 74 FR 59444 59472 Removal of the Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife; Final Rule
  • Final Delisting, Recovered
  • 09/30/2009 74 FR 50236 50237 Draft Post-Delisting Monitoring Plan for the Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)
  • Notice Doc. Availability, Draft Post Delisting Monitoring Plan
  • 03/05/2008 73 FR 11945 11950 Initiation of 5-Year Reviews of 58 Species in California and Nevada; Availability of Completed 5-Year Reviews in California, Nevada and Southern Oregon
  • Notice 5-year Review, Completion
  • 02/20/2008 73 FR 9408 9433 12-Month Petition Finding and Proposed Rule To Remove the Brown Pelican(Pelecanus occidentalis) From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife; Proposed Rule
  • Notice 12 month petition finding, Warranted
  • Notice 90-day Petition Finding, Substantial
  • Proposed Delisting, Recovered
  • 05/24/2006 71 FR 29908 29910 90-Day Finding on a Petition To Delist the California Brown Pelican and Initiation of a 5-Year Review for the Brown Pelican
  • Notice 5-year Review, Initiation
  • Notice 90-day Petition Finding, Substantial
  • Five Year Review
    Date Title
    02/07/2007 Brown Pelican 5-Year Review
    Delisting Documents
    Date Title
    09/30/2009 Final Draft Brown Pelican Post-Delisting Monitoring Plan

    » Critical Habitat

    No critical habitat rules have been published for the Brown pelican.

    » Conservation Plans

    Habitat Conservation Plans (HCP) (learn more) (Showing 5 of 7: view all)
    HCP Plan Summaries
    MHCP, City of Carlsbad Habitat Management Plan
    MSCP, City of Chula Vista Subarea Plan
    MSCP, City of La Mesa Subarea Plan
    MSCP, City of Poway Subarea Plan
    MSCP, County of San Diego Subarea Plan
    Safe Harbor Agreements (SHA): (learn more) (Showing 1 of 1)
    SHA Plan Summaries
    Metropolitan Water District of Southern California Ormond Beach Property

    » Petitions

    Most Recent Petition Findings (Showing 2 of 2)
    Date Citation Page Title Finding
    02/20/2008 73 FR 9408 9433 12-Month Petition Finding and Proposed Rule To Remove the Brown Pelican(Pelecanus occidentalis) From the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife; Proposed Rule
  • Notice 12 month petition finding, Warranted
  • Notice 90-day Petition Finding, Substantial
  • Proposed Delisting, Recovered
  • 05/24/2006 71 FR 29908 29910 90-Day Finding on a Petition To Delist the California Brown Pelican and Initiation of a 5-Year Review for the Brown Pelican
  • Notice 5-year Review, Initiation
  • Notice 90-day Petition Finding, Substantial
  • » Life History

    No Life History information has been entered into this system for this species.

    » Other Resources

    NatureServe Explorer Species Reports -- NatureServe Explorer is a source for authoritative conservation information on more than 50,000 plants, animals and ecological communtities of the U.S and Canada. NatureServe Explorer provides in-depth information on rare and endangered species, but includes common plants and animals too. NatureServe Explorer is a product of NatureServe in collaboration with the Natural Heritage Network.

    ITIS Reports -- ITIS (the Integrated Taxonomic Information System) is a source for authoritative taxonomic information on plants, animals, fungi, and microbes of North America and the world.

    Last updated: September 22, 2014