Dalmatian Pelican

Dalmaton pelican

Name: Dalmatian Pelican

SE Europe, Egypt & Central to Eastern Asia (including Russia, Iran and China)

Distinctive features:
The largest of the pelicans with a wingspan of just over 3m, 170–190cm in length and 11–15 kg in weight.
Remarkable large yellow beak and lower pouch, which turns red during the breeding season.
It can keep fish in its pouch to eat later.

Locations in Bulgaria:
At the Burgas Lakes, Dalmatian Pelicans can be found during the whole year, although their numbers increase during migration season and winter. The Dalmatian Pelicans rest usually at Atanassovsko Lake and the shallow retention ponds next to the Poda protected area. They usually feed at Vaya Lake.

Srebarna Lake is the traditional location of the Dalmatian Pelican, with between 14 and 128 breeding pairs each summer. Some young birds also wander in different water basins along the Danube.
ually feed at Vaya Lake.


They prefer open wetlands with bank borders over drown vegetation. They can be found at lakes, rivers, deltas and estuaries. They feed almost entirely on fish, with a preference for Common carp, European perch, Common Rudd, eel, catfish, mullet and Northern pike. They are highly faithful to their breeding places, usually returning to the same site every year, unless there has been a change in the breeding conditions.

Most nests are situated amongst aquatic vegetation on floating or stationary islands isolated from the mainland to avoid mammalian predators.

Dalmatian Pelicans are gregarious throughout the year. They sometimes breed sometimes alone, but usually prefer dense colonies of up to 250 pairs. In the winter, they can be seen fishing in large flocks or in forages communally and cooperatively in small groups, although occasionally  in just their individual pairs.


The breeding population in Bulgaria is between 14 and 128 pairs. At Burgas Lakes, the numbers can regularly reach as high as 400–500 individuals during winter.

Nature conservation status:
The Dalmatian Pelican is a globally threatened species and is classified as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List. Although the largest colony is in Greece at Lake Mikri Prespa, the species is rare in Europe. Other breeding places are in the Balkan Peninsula (mainly in the Danube delta) and Russia.

Favorite hobby:
Hanging out with their friends to feed. It likes to eat fish and catches them by dipping its head into the water.