lizbrownlee – poet

Poems, animal info, extraordinary women, my books!

P is for Pelican

Richard Taylor

Pelican photo by Richard Taylor on Flikr.



The name pelican derives from an Ancient Greek word, which itself came from a word meaning ‘axe’.

Despite having the biggest beak, up to 1.6 feet, and being the heaviest birds to fly, pelicans are remarkably graceful in the air.

They have air bubbles in their bones which keeps their weight down and give them extra buoyancy, and also air sacs beneath the skin in their throat, chest and beneath their wings which also help with the latter.

During courtship the pelicans’ bills in all species change to vivid, beautiful colours.

Sometimes pelicans hunt in groups, beating the water surface with their wings to herd fish into the shallows. Then they scoop them up, their beaks expanding like a concertina, drain up to 3 gallons of water away, and gulp the fish down.

Pelicans are remarkably endearing looking birds, and are related to Shoebill storks.

They are not endangered generally, but are losing habitat and have been affected by pesticides.



Photo © Richard Taylor as above.

Poem © Liz Brownlee.

Information from Wikipedia.

If you would like to blog-hop to the next A-Z Challenge blog, please click here.

If you’d like to read about or buy my book, Animal Magic, full of animal poems and fascinating facts, click here.


  1. Hee, love the swallows till he’s goggle-eyed line. Because that picture of the pelican is pretty odd looking – it almost doesn’t look like it could be a real species.

    Hope you’re having fun with the A to Z challenge,


  2. great fun Liz x


  3. Liz

    The sight of a pelican swallowing the contents of its bill always makes me heave – sorry!
    By the way, so you know who wrote this?
    A wonderful bird is the pelican
    its beak can hold more than its belly can..


    • I do! An American poet, Dixon Lanier Merritt… I think that’s how you spell it.


      • Liz

        I knew you were the right person to ask! Thanks.


  4. Hey i loved your theme and with the mix of poetry it made it wow 😉


  5. Fun poem and didn’t know their bill changes colour. I remember sitting on a beach in Panama and just watching them dive in the ocean for fish


    • Hi Birgit, I’m so sorry but I can’t comment on your excellent blog about film stars as the comment box is one that doesn’t let people on wordpress comment – it won’t let me, anyhow!


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