Great White Pelican

Pelecanus onocrotalus

Great White Pelican, Pelecanus onocrotalus, photo © by Michael Plagens

At Lake Elementaita, Kenya. December 2015.

Parts of Lake Elementaita are largely fresh water that has entered through rivers and springs while other parts are alkaline like the other Rift Valley lakes. Fish, the food of terns, pelicans, and other birds are concentrated in the fresh water sections. Flamingos are absent from this panorama, preferring the alkaline areas. Salinity and alkalinity vary considerably from season to season and year to year. Bird populations vary likewise.

From Wikipedia: The great white pelican is a huge bird, with only the Dalmatian pelican averaging larger amongst the pelicans. The wingspan can range from 226 to 360 cm. Immature great white pelicans are grey and have dark flight feathers. In flight, it is an elegant soaring bird, with the head held close to and aligned with the body by a downward bend in the neck. In breeding condition the male has pinkish skin on its face and the female has orangey skin.

Pelecanidae -- Pelican Family


  • Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania by Zimmerman et al.
  • Birds of East Africa by Stevenson and Fanshawe

More Information:

Kenya Natural History

Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 29 Feb. 2016,
updated 2 June 2016.