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Pearl River Swamp Tour Highlight: Pelican

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Pelicans in Louisiana

Louisiana’s diverse wildlife and wetlands are home to many different species, one of which is the majestic brown pelican. A symbol of great significance in the state and recognized as the Louisiana state bird, the brown pelican holds a special place in the culture and natural heritage of Louisiana. 

Its image prominently features on the state flag, portraying a mother pelican nurturing her young with her own blood, symbolizing justice and confidence. This bird’s enduring connection with the people of Louisiana serves as a poignant reminder of the state’s rich natural history and resilience. With its unique portrayal and valuable role in the ecosystem, the pelican remains an icon of Southern charm and grace. 

Pelican Diet

one of the brown pelicans in Louisiana eating fish

Pelicans are expert hunters with an adaptable diet that primarily consists of fish. Using their exceptional diving skills and their expansive throat pouches, they can scoop up fish from the surface of the water. Their impressive feeding technique involves diving from great heights to catch their prey.

While fish remains their primary food source, these opportunistic feeders also consume other prey such as amphibians, crustaceans, and even small birds. Pelicans’ versatile eating habits enable them to thrive in various aquatic habitats, making them highly successful predators. Thus, they possess a unique ability to maintain a balanced and nutritious diet, which ultimately promotes their survival and thriving in their respective ecological communities.

Pelican Habitat

pelicans in louisiana
Photographer: Halle Parker

Pelicans inhabit various regions worldwide, but the Louisiana wetlands provide an ideal environment for these birds to thrive. The vast coastline, estuaries, and marshes of Louisiana offer an abundance of shallow waters and a diverse range of fish species, essential for the primary diet of the pelican colonies. Their nesting and roosting areas here are afforded protection from disturbances and predators, and the vast bodies of water provide them with opportunities to catch food. 

Louisiana’s unique combination of diverse ecosystems and coastal landscapes creates the perfect sanctuary for the pelican, making it a hallmark species of the state. This abundance of wetlands ensures the survival of the pelican bird and its continued presence in Louisiana for generations to come.

Growth & Development 

three baby pelicans in Louisiana's Queen Bess Island

Pelicans have a unique and captivating process of birth and development. After the courtship process, the female lays two to three eggs in a nest fashioned from twigs and vegetation. Both parents alternate in incubating the eggs, which lasts around thirty days. Upon hatching up in the trees, chick Pelicans emerge small, blind, and covered with meager white feathers and rely on their parents for nourishment, warmth, and protection. 

For the first few months of the chick’s life, the parents work tirelessly to care for their young, feeding them regurgitated fish. During this time, chicks grow quickly, sprouting feathers and gaining strength. After about 9 to 12 weeks, the young pelicans undergo full fledging and acquire the ability to fly, transitioning to independent living. 

Get a Chance to See Them Up-Close on a Honey Island Tour 

Get ready for a thrilling adventure and immerse yourself in the magnificent world of Louisiana’s wetlands by joining a Pearl River swamp tour. With this excursion, you’ll have the amazing opportunity to witness pelicans up close and personal, observing their elegant dives and impressive wingspan. Take a moment to appreciate the role these beautiful birds play in the ecosystem while surrounded by the breathtaking scenery on a Honey Island tour. Don’t miss this amazing and educational opportunity to get to know the natural habitat of pelicans, as well as other swamp animals, and create unforgettable memories. Book your Pearl River swamp tour today and get ready for a great adventure! 

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