Pink-backed pelican

Pelecanus rufescens

At the Detroit Zoo
The Detroit Zoo is home to two pink-backed pelicans that arrived in June 2014. They can be found in their American Grasslands habitat in the summer.

Pink-backed pelicans are among the smallest of pelican species. Their plumage is white, gray and pink with dark gray wing tips; their pink backs and rumps can only be seen when their wings are unfolded. Their pouches, the most spectacular feature of these birds, are tucked between their long beaks and necks. The yellow beaks of pink-backed pelicans have large hooks at the tips for gripping fish. Mature individuals have long feather plumes on the back of their heads.

Fun Facts

  • Pink-backed pelicans cannot sweat, so when they get hot they cool themselves by fluttering air over their moist skin on the inside of their throat pouches.