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American White Pelican Pelecanus erythrorhynchos
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information

IUCN Red List history

Year Category
2012 Least Concern
2009 Least Concern
2008 Least Concern
2004 Least Concern
2000 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1994 Lower Risk/Least Concern
1988 Lower Risk/Least Concern

Species attributes

Migratory status full migrant Forest dependency Does not normally occur in forest
Land mass type   Average mass -


  Estimate Data quality
Extent of Occurrence breeding/resident (km2) 1,210,000 medium
Extent of Occurrence non-breeding (km2) 2,270,000 medium
Number of locations -
Fragmentation -

Population & trend

  Estimate Data quality Derivation Year of estimate
No. of mature individuals poor Estimated 2009
Population trend Increasing -
Number of subpopulations - - -
Largest subpopulation - - -
Generation length (yrs) 15 - - -
Population justification: The population is estimated to number 180,000 individuals.
Trend justification: This species has undergone a large and statistically significant increase over the last 40 years in North America (456% increase over 40 years, equating to a 53.5% increase per decade; data from Breeding Bird Survey and/or Christmas Bird Count: Butcher and Niven 2007).

Country/Territory distribution

Country/Territory Occurrence status Presence Breeding Non-breeding Passage Resident
Antigua and Barbuda Vagrant Extant        
Bahamas Native Extant        
Belize Vagrant Extant   Yes    
Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (to Netherlands) Vagrant Extant     Yes  
Canada Native Extant Yes      
Cayman Islands (to UK) Native Extant        
Costa Rica Native Extant   Yes    
Cuba Native Extant        
Curaçao (to Netherlands) Vagrant Extant     Yes  
Dominican Republic Native Extant        
El Salvador Native Extant        
Guadeloupe (to France) Vagrant Extant     Yes  
Guatemala Native Extant        
Haiti Native Extant        
Honduras Unknown Extant        
Jamaica Vagrant Extant        
Mexico Native Extant        
Nicaragua Native Extant        
Panama Vagrant Extant        
Puerto Rico (to USA) Native Extant        
Sint Maarten (to Netherlands) Vagrant Extant     Yes  
St Pierre and Miquelon (to France) Vagrant Extant     Yes  
Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK) Native Extant        
USA Native Extant Yes      
Virgin Islands (to USA) Vagrant Extant        

Important Bird Areas where this species has triggered the IBA criteria

Country/Territory IBA Name IBA link
Canada Dog Lake site factsheet
Canada Dory's Reef site factsheet
Canada Gull and Sandhill Island site factsheet
Canada Hays Reservoir site factsheet
Canada Kasakeemeemisekak Islands site factsheet
Canada Kaweenakumik Lake site factsheet
Canada Kazan Lake site factsheet
Canada Lavalleé Lake site factsheet
Canada North Channel Island site factsheet
Canada North, West, and East Shoal Lakes site factsheet
Canada Oak Lake/Plum Lakes Area site factsheet
Canada Old Wives-Frederick Lakes site factsheet
Canada Pelican Lake site factsheet
Canada Pelican Lake (Alberta) site factsheet
Canada Primrose Lake site factsheet
Canada Redberry Lake site factsheet
Canada South Long Island site factsheet
Canada Suggi Lake site factsheet
Canada Three Sisters Islands site factsheet
El Salvador Cerrón Grande site factsheet
Guatemala Manchon-Guamuchal site factsheet
Mexico Bahia de Ceuta-Cospita site factsheet
Mexico Centro de Veracruz site factsheet
Mexico Coastal hunedals of the North of the Peninsula of Yucatan site factsheet
Mexico Complejo de Humedales del Noroeste de Chihuahua site factsheet
Mexico Complejo de Presas de Río Fuerte site factsheet
Mexico Cuitzeo site factsheet
Mexico Estero Cardonal site factsheet
Mexico Istmo de Tehuantepec-Mar Muerto site factsheet
Mexico Laguna Cuyutlán y Estero Palo Verde site factsheet
Mexico Laguna de Tamiahua site factsheet
Mexico Marismas Nacionales site factsheet
Mexico Presa Falcón site factsheet
Mexico Presa Lago de Guadalupe site factsheet
Mexico Presa Laguna de Zumpango site factsheet
Mexico Sistema Arrecifal Veracruzano site factsheet
Mexico Sistema Lagunar Playas de Catazajá site factsheet
Mexico Tecolutla site factsheet
Mexico The Encrucijada site factsheet
USA Bear River Bay UT02 site factsheet
USA Blackfoot Reservoir site factsheet
USA Chenier Plain site factsheet
USA Gunnison Bay/North Arm UT01 site factsheet
USA Lac Qui Parle - Big Stone IBA site factsheet
USA Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge site factsheet

Habitats & altitude

Habitat (level 1) Habitat (level 2) Importance Occurrence
Marine Coastal/Supratidal Coastal Brackish/Saline Lagoons/Marine Lakes suitable non-breeding
Marine Neritic Estuaries suitable non-breeding
Wetlands (inland) Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands suitable breeding
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Freshwater Lakes (over 8ha) major breeding
Wetlands (inland) Permanent Saline, Brackish or Alkaline Lakes major breeding
Altitude 0 - 0 m Occasional altitudinal limits  


Purpose Primary form used Life stage used Source Scale Level Timing
Food (human) Whole Adults and juveniles Wild Subsistence, National Non-trivial Recent
Pets Whole Adults and juveniles Wild International Non-trivial Recent

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Pelecanus erythrorhynchos. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Least Concern
Family Pelecanidae (Pelicans)
Species name author Gmelin, 1789
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Increasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 1,210,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Summary information on this species