Pelecaniformes – Pelicans, herons & ibises

Medium and large waterbirds found worldwide, most have a bare throat patch

Pelecaniformes has two suborders – Ardei and Pelecani. The suborder Ardei includes egrets, herons, bitterns, ibises, and spoonbills, while Pelecani includes pelicans, shoebills, and hamerkops.

Birds in this order are medium to large-sized waterbirds with the hallux (first toe) pointing forwards and webbed with the other three toes. Another distinctive feature is the patch of bare skin on their throat, known as the gular patch. Most species nest in tight colonies with altricial young, which means the babies are born naked (without feathers) and are helpless.

Their aquatic nature means they feed on fish, reptiles, amphibians, crustaceans, mollusks, and aquatic insects.

Birds of this order have been affected by human disturbances in their colonies and persecution by fishers as they are mistakenly viewed as competition for fish.