Great white pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus, photographed by Hamed Saber.

Belongs within: Neoaves.

The Pelecanidae includes the pelicans, distinctive large fishing birds with elongate bills subtended by an expansive gular pouch. Pelicans use this pouch to scoop up water containing fish, straining it out and then swallowing their prey. All living species are included in the genus Pelecanus, with other genera known from the fossil record. Among modern pelicans, the two dark-coloured species, the brown pelican P. occidentalis and Peruvian pelican P. thagus, are distinctive in plunge-diving for prey, while the remaining mostly white or grey species usually catch fish while swimming on the water's surface.

<==Pelecanidae [Pelecanida, Pelicanea, Pelicanidae]
    |--Liptornis Ameghino 1894 A94
    |    `--*L. hesternus Ameghino 1894 A94
    |--Miopelecanus Cheneval 1984 M02
    |    |--*M. gracilis (Milne-Edwards 1863) [=Pelecanus gracilis] M02
    |    `--M. intermedius (Fraas 1870) [=Pelecanus intermedius; incl. P. fraasi Lydekker 1891] M02
    `--Pelecanus Linnaeus 1758 M02
         |  i. s.: P. odessanus Vidgal’m 1886 M02
         |         P. philippensis SU93
         |         P. rufescens M03
         |         P. thagus FMB03
         |--+--P. crispus JT12
         |  `--P. onocrotalus Linnaeus 1758 JT12, S05 [incl. P. minor Rüppell 1837 non Gmelin 1789 S05, P. roseus SU93]
         `--+--P. conspicillatus Temminck 1824 JT12, W04 (see below for synonymy)
            `--+--P. erythrorhynchos JT12
               `--P. occidentalis JT12

Pelecanus conspicillatus Temminck 1824 JT12, W04 [incl. P. conspicillatus novaezealandiae Scarlett 1966 WH02, P. spectabilis Salvado 1851 WS48, P. conspicillatus westralis Mathews 1912 WS48]

*Type species of generic name indicated


[A94] Ameghino, F. 1894. Sur les oiseaux fossiles de Patagonie et la aune mammalogique des couches a Pyrotherium. Boletín del Instituto Geográfico Argentino 15 (11-12): 501-602.

[FMB03] Frey, E., D. M. Martill & M.-C. Buchy. 2003. A new crested ornithocheirid from the Lower Cretaceous of northeastern Brazil and the unusual death of an unusual pterosaur. In Evolution and Palaeobiology of Pterosaurs (E. Buffetaut & J.-M. Mazin, eds) Geological Society Special Publications 217: 55-63. The Geological Society: London.

[JT12] Jetz, W., G. H. Thomas, J. B. Joy, K. Hartmann & A. Ø. Mooers. 2012. The global diversity of birds in space and time. Nature 491: 444-448.

[M03] Mayr, G. 2003. The phylogenetic affinities of the shoebill (Balaeniceps rex). Journal für Ornithologie 144: 157-175.

[M02] Mlíkovský, J. 2002. Cenozoic Birds of the World. Part 1: Europe. Ninox Press: Praha.

[SU93] Sonobe, K., & S. Usui (eds.) 1993. A Field Guide to the Waterbirds of Asia. Wild Bird Society of Japan: Tokyo.

[S05] Steinheimer, F. D. 2005. Eduard Rüppel’s avian types at the Natural History Museum, Tring (Aves). Senckenbergiana Biologica 85 (2): 233-264.

[WS48] Whittell, H. M. & D. L. Serventy. 1948. A systematic list of the birds of Western Australia. Public Library, Museum and Art Gallery of Western Australia, Special Publication 1: 1-126.

[W04] Worthy, T. H. 2004. The Holocene fossil waterfowl fauna of Lake Poukawa, North Island, New Zealand. Tuhinga 15: 77-120.

[WH02] Worthy, T. H., & R. N. Holdaway. 2002. The Lost World of the Moa: Prehistoric life of New Zealand. Indiana University Press: Bloomington (Indiana).

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