Cocoa – Brown Pelican
Cocoa came to World Bird Sanctuary during the Gulf of Mexico oil spill of 2010. She was originally treated for a wing injury at Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary in Florida in November of 2007. Cocoa was not releasable, and so was kept on permanent exhibit with fellow Brown Pelican, Gumbo – an exhibit that was the perfect size for two permanently captive Brown Pelicans. The experienced wildlife rehabilitators at Suncoast knew that Cocoa’s and Gumbo’s enclosure could house up to 40 injured oiled seabirds on a short-term basis, if needed. The large number of birds admitted to the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary during the 2010 oil spill stretched their capacity to it’s limit. Suncoast asked World Bird Sanctuary to provide a home to Cocoa and Gumbo so that their enclosure could be used for the short-term housing of the many injured seabirds admitted to Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary during and after the oil spill.
During the summer season, you can find Cocoa in our outdoor exhibits by the Wildlife Hospital.
Species: Brown Pelican
Scientific Name: Pelecanus occidentalis
Description: large diving water bird; smallest of the seven pelican species worldwide; brown streaked back, rump, and tail; blackish brown belly; grayish bill and pouch; chestnut and white neck; white head with pale yellow crown; in breeding season the back of the neck turns dark brown and a yellow patch appears at the base of the foreneck
Sex: male typically larger than female
Age: 15-25 years, one individual captured in Florida had been banded 31 years previously
Length: up to 54” long
Weight: 8-10 lbs.
Habitat: seacoasts and estuaries; waterfronts; marinas
Status: listed as endangered in 1970 because of pesticides such as DDT; has made a strong comeback and has been delisted in most of it’s eastern range; U.S. Gulf Coast, Central and South American, and Pacific Coast populations still listed as endangered
Range: Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf Coasts of North and South America
Behavior: feed by flying over schools of fish and plunging into the water and coming up with a mouthful of fish; social and gregarious; congregate in large flocks much of the year; typically begin to breed between ages of 3 to 5; nest in large colonies on the ground, in bushes, or in tops of trees; male delivers nesting materials; female builds the nest; she lays 2 to 3 chalky white eggs that hatch in about a month; parents share in incubation; young fledge at twelve weeks
Diet: mainly fish and some crustaceans
Vocalization: adults silent (rarely a low croak); nestlings squeal
- Populations fluctuate from year to year and place to place; may switch breeding sites yearly.
- Brown pelicans are the only species to dive into the water from 30 feet above to capture prey. After catching the prey and a lot of water, they tip their bill downward to drain the water before swallowing the fish.
- The brown pelican, the smallest of the Pelecanidae family, can fly up to 30 mph.