Brown Pelican in Flight, Barbados Pocket Guide


The pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) is a large, brown water bird  with a peculiar pouch under its beak, webbed feet with four toes and some white on its’ head. Though this bird was large in size to what was accustomed to Barbados, it is the smallest of the eight species of pelicans.


The pelican travels in flocks and dives from air for fish. Brown pelicans can be seen traveling as a group in single file and flying close to the surface of the water. Young pelicans are fed by way of mothers regurgitating their food.


In the 1970s, pesticides like DDT threatened the brown pelican’s population in the US. Research concluded that usage of such a pesticide caused the eggshells to lose their protective strength and thereby unable to support the embryo until maturity. Since its’ ban, the brown pelican population has increased.


Brown pelicans have not been on the shores of Barbados for many years now. In spite of its physical absence on the island, it is still very much a part of our history. Examples of these can be seen in the Barbados Coat of Arms, which was designed by Neville Clarke Connell. In the Barbados Coat of Arms, the pelican represents a small island that once existed off Barbados called Pelican Island. That island has now been incorporated into the Deep Water Harbour development.


Another example of the pelican’s significance to Barbados is its usage in the University of the West Indies logo.


In the US, the Brown Pelican is protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.


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