Family Pelicans (Pelecanidae)

Near Threatened

Spot-billed Pelican (Pelecanus philippensis)


French: Pélican à bec tacheté German: Graupelikan Spanish: Pelícano oriental

Pelecanus philippensis

J. F. Gmelin

, 1789,

Philippine Islands


Part of a clade that includes also P. crispus, P. rufescens and P. conspicillatus#R. Formerly considered conspecific with P. crispus, but now universally accepted as separate species. In the past was often referred to by older name of P. roseus, causing some confusion with P. onocrotalus roseus; name roseus now invalid. Monotypic.


Once widespread in S Asia, range now much reduced. Breeding apparently now limited to W, S & E India, Sri Lanka and Cambodia, and possibly breeding in small numbers in Sumatra; probably no longer in Myanmar; in Philippines last claimed record from 1972#R. In non-breeding season recorded in Nepal, and more widely through Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.

Descriptive notes

127–152 cm; 5100–5700 g; bill 285–355 mm; wingspan 213–250 cm. Breeding adult has dull white head and neck, can be grizzled or somewhat peppered, the... read more


Little known. Grunts and groaning sounds at breeding colony.


Watery tracts, including marshes, jheels, rivers, estuaries, reservoirs, tanks, flooded... read more

Food and feeding

Mostly fish, but poorly documented. Daily requirement reckoned to be around 1000 g. Normally feeds alone, though sometimes in groups.


Oct–Mar, usually on traditional sites. Nov–Apr in Tamil Nadu, India, after the onset of monsoon. Tree nester, normally 3... read more


Poorly known. Some local movements, other populations sedentary. In S India, birds reported to... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Currently considered Near Threatened. Locally fairly common. Known to breed only in parts of Indian Subcontinent and in Cambodia. Formerly common... read more

Recommended citation

Elliott, A., Christie, D.A., Jutglar, F. & de Juana, E. (2020). Spot-billed Pelican (Pelecanus philippensis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 28 March 2020).