a comprehensive resource of avian hand rearing techniques for captive bird populations

Eastern White Pelican

Pelecanus onocrotalus

Pelecaniformes - Pelecanidae - Pelicans

Eastern White Pelican - Day 1

© Sedgwick County Zoo

Eastern White Pelican - Day 1Eastern White Pelican - Day 29 & 34

Distribution: Breeds E. Europe to W. Mongolia. NE Africa and Iraq to N India. Also resident in Africa S of Sahara, NW India & S Vietnam

Habitat: Fresh or brackish water in Europe, lagoons & marshes. In Africa - alkaline or fresh water, sometimes marine.

Diet: Fish mostly, occassionally eggs & chicks of cormorants. Normally feeds in groups.

Breeding: Ground nester, in large colonies; nest made from a pile of reeds & sticks

Clutch size: 1 - 3 eggs

Incubation: 29 - 36 days

Rearing: Chicks hatch naked. 20 - 25 days after hatching chicks gather in "pods".

Fledge age: 65 - 75 days

Maturity: 3 - 4 years


Protocol from Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, Kansas USA

View Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, Kansas USA protocol file >

Protocol established 2011
Used on 3 individuals
Success rate 100.00%


Protocol used for at least 5 individuals with over 75% success 
Used by 2 or more institutions 
Points on minimizing imprinting 
Birds went on to produce fertile eggs 
Birds went on to successfully parent rear 

Warning points

Please keep us up-to-date and contact us with your own updates or new protocols for rearing the Eastern White Pelican.


Del Hoya, J., Elliott, A. & Sargatal, J. eds. (1992). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Vol1. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Hand-rearing the Eastern or Great white pelican Pelecanus onocrotalus at Vogelpark Avifauna, Alphen. S. H. Ober. International Zoo Yearbook. Vol 36. Pages 171-173.

Top of page ^