Spot- Billed Pelicans

Why In News?

Over 150 spot- billed pelicans died after a nematode (parasite) infestation at Telineelapuram Important Bird Area (IBA) in Naupada swamp of Srikakulam district in Andhra Pradesh (AP).


  • Scientific Name- Pelecanus philippensis
  • IUCN Status- Near Threatened
  • It mainly breeds in southern Asia from southern Iran across India, east to Indonesia.
  • The Telineelapuram IBA is the prime location for the spot- billed pelicans for winter breeding.

In this article we will learn about some interesting facts about the Spot-Billed- Pelicans. This topic comes under GS- 3 paper, under the topic Environment and Ecology of the IAS exam. This becomes important from the prelims point of view.

Characteristics of Spot-Billed Pelican

  • The spot-billed pelican, also called grey pelican, is a member of the pelican family.
  • It is a bird of large inland and coastal waters, especially large lakes.
  • It is relatively a small pelican but still a large bird, about 125–152 cm (49–60 in) long.
  • It weighs around 4.1–6 kg.
  • It is mainly white in colour, with a grey crest, hindneck and a brownish tail.
  • The feathers on the hind neck are curly and form a greyish nape crest.
  • These birds are very silent although sometimes they make hissing noises in their nests.

Feeding habits of Spot- Billed Pelicans

  • These spot-billed pelican species feed mainly on fish.
  • They also feed on crustaceans and small birds
  • They catch fish in its huge bill pouch while swimming at the surface and they are usually found to fish in small flocks.
  • These birds are found to nest in colonies.
  • They build nest on low trees
  • The nest may contain a clutch of three to four white eggs.

Find the list of national parks in India by visiting the linked article

Breeding of Spot-Billed Pelican

  • The breeding season for the Spot- Billed Pelicans varies from October to May.
  • In South India it coincides with the Northeast monsoon.

Habits for Spot-Billed Pelican

  • The main habitat for the Spot-Billed Pelican is in shallow lowland freshwaters.
  • They are found to breed only in peninsular India- Sri Lanka and in Cambodia.
  • Few of the birds have also been seen in Gangetic plains of India during the winter seasons.
  • The spot-billed pelican is not just a migratory bird and is also known to make local movements.
  • In the non-breeding season they are recorded in Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.

To know more about Biodiversity in general, visit the linked article

Status and conservation of Spot-Billed Pelicans

  • The total global population of these birds is around 13,000 to 18,000 individual birds.
  • Over the last three generations they have witnessed decline in population.
  • These species are threatened because of the following- habitat loss, agricultural pollution, fishing, poaching of chicks and eggs and silting up of water bodies.
  • Based on these threats the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorised them under the “Near Threatened” category.
  • In the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 they are found in Schedule IV (Hunting prohibited).

Change Of Status of the Spot-Billed Pelican

  • Over the years efforts for the conservation of these birds has resulted in increased protection of these birds.
  • This enabled recovery in their numbers and the status of the species was changed from vulnerable to near threatened in the 2007 IUCN Red List.

For more information about upcoming Government Exams, visit the linked article. More exam-related preparation materials will be found through the links given below:

International Unit for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) 

Loss of Biodiversity

Current Affairs

Daily News

Indian National Movement

UPSC Current Affairs Quiz


Leave a Comment

Your Mobile number and Email id will not be published.