In Scope: Great White Pelican


Great White Pelican


And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly and swarm with living creatures, and let birds fly over the earth in the open expanse of the heavens. ~ Genesis 1:20

     This time In Scope we're going half way around the world in featuring one of the many migratory birds that make their way through the land of Israel on the Africa-Eurasia Flyway. I'm talking about the Great White Pelican! The relative to our two North American species, the Great White Pelican is also one of the largest flying birds in the world. Let's learn more about this amazing bird!

Amazing Facts

    Did you know...






Zoom In: Species Profile

    The Great White Pelican's scientific name is Pelecanus onocrotalus. They are large sized birds - ranging from 55 - 69 inches in length. They have mostly white plumage with black wing feathers. The massive bill of the Great White Pelican is mostly a light blue color with a red stripe and a small red tip. The skin of their pouch is yellow. They also have bare pink patches of skin around each eye. Great White Pelicans have short, strong, yellow legs and webbed feet. 

    Unlike most other seabirds - pelicans are mostly silent - except in the breeding season when the adults make hoarse sounding display calls.
The preferred habitat of the Great White Pelican is marshes and large bodies of water inland or on the coast. Each year when they migrate on the Africa-Eurasia Flyway, they stop off in Israel - especially at the Sea of Galilee.  

    The diet of the Great White Pelican is mostly fish and crustaceans. They gather fish by lowering their head and scooping up water and fish with their enormous bills. When they lift their head, their 'pouch' contracts - expelling the water from their bill and trapping the fish inside their pouch. The pelican then swallows the fish whole.

fish gif

    Great White Pelicans are colony nesters. Their nest consists of a mound of sticks placed on the ground. The female lays 2 eggs. 

    The range of the Great White Pelican includes southeast Europe, Asia and most of Africa south of the Sahara desert. These countries include: Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Benin, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Congo, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Moldova, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Netherlands, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Palestine, Poland, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Western Sahara, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.


    This month's In Scope activity is a Great White Pelican coloring page. This activity is available in a free PDF format. To download, simply click here.


Scriptures about Pelicans....

    The pelican is mentioned by name a few times in the Bible. Often it was in reference to the punishment God was going to bring on certain cities and peoples. The pelican was one of the birds that would take up residence in these fallen cities - laid waste and left desolate with only wild animals as inhabitants. 

Zephaniah 2:14 says,

    Herds shall lie down in the midst of [Nineveh], all the [wild] beasts of the nations and every kind; both the pelican and the hedgehog shall lodge on the upper part of her [fallen] pillars; the voice [of the nesting bird] shall sing in the windows; desolation and drought shall be on the thresholds, for her cedar paneling will He lay bare.

Isaiah 34:11 also says,

    But the pelican and the porcupine will possess it; the owl and the bittern and the raven will dwell in it. And He will stretch over it [Edom] the measuring line of confusion and the plummet stones of chaos [over its nobles].

    Another instance that pelicans were mentioned in the Bible is in the Psalms - chapter 102 verse 6, which says,

     I am like a melancholy pelican or vulture of the wilderness; I am like a [desolate] owl of the waste places.

    The pelican was very obviously a familiar bird to the region of Israel and the Middle East, even back in Bible times. Its interesting to look back as far as even Deuteronomy 14:17 and Leviticus 11:18 where God mentions the pelican as being among the birds that the Israelites were not to eat. The pelican is just one of the many species of birds directly mentioned in the Bible.

    Thoughts on Migration....

    Its hard to comprehend and get your mind around how since the beginning of time, God set in place the times and the seasons - the migrations of birds and their ranges - the order and cycle of everything in the universe - and how each part of God's world - including the pelican, continues to fulfill His plan and purpose for His creation each day, each season and each year. To think about God and His Timelessness and His awesome creation that I see in this world everyday - it makes me feel very, very small, yet not unimportant in the eyes of our Heavenly Father.  God loves us so much - He knows when we lie down and when we get up. He even knows our every step:

    Psalm 37:23

    The steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and He busies Himself with his every step].

    Since God knows all of our steps we take each day - lets make sure that our steps and our thoughts are pleasing to Him - because He knows it all. I want to leave You with this thought in your heart: God is "Omniscient" meaning - He knows everything. He is also Ever Present and Eternal - meaning He always was, is and always will be. That should be a really comforting thought for those of us who know Him.

    I'll close with Psalm 139:2,7-10 AMP,

    "You know my downsitting and my uprising; You understand my thought afar off.  Where could I go from Your Spirit?  Or where could I flee from Your presence? If I ascend up to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol (the place of the dead), behold, You are there.  If I take the wings of the morning or dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall Your hand lead me, and Your right Hand shall hold me."

    By, Jessi Wasell