Brown Pelican


The Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) is a large and stocky seabird found along our coast. These low-flying seabirds are easy to spot as they like hanging around jetties and docks among San Diego’s popular beaches. Visit the Ocean Beach Pier and watch them dive bomb into the water to feed on fish near the beach.  

After nearly disappearing from southern California by the 1970s, Brown Pelicans have enjoyed a remarkable recovery thanks to the prohibition of the use of pesticides like DDT. This pesticide made its way into the fish the Brown Pelican ate, which resulted in soft and deformed eggshells that could not support the weight of the parent. Brown Pelican numbers began to recover following the ban on DDT in 1972.

Did you know? Brown Pelicans breeding along the Pacific coast have red throat pouches, while those breeding along the coasts of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico have greenish-black colors at the base of the pouch.

To learn more about the Brown Pelican, or other birds of our region, please visit the San Diego County Bird Atlas.

PHOTO CREDIT: Phillip Colla Photography