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The Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus) is a massive member of the pelican family. It breeds from southeastern Europe to India and China in swamps and shallow lakes. The nest is a crude heap of vegetation.
No subspecies are known to exist over its wide range, but based on size differences, a Pleistocene paleosubspecies, Pelecanus crispus palaeocrispus, has been described from fossils recovered at Binagady, Azerbaijan.
This huge bird is the largest of the pelicans and one of the largest living bird species. It measures 160 to 183 cm (5 ft 3 in to 6 ft 0 in) in length, 9–15 kg (20–33 lb) in weight and 290–351 cm (9 ft 6 in–11 ft 6 in) in wingspan. Its mean weight of around 11.5 kg (25 lb) makes it the world's heaviest flying bird species, although the largest individuals among male bustards and swans may be heavier than the largest individual Dalmatian Pelican.[4] It also appears to have one of the largest wingspans of any living bird, rivaling those of the great albatrosses.
The somewhat similar-looking Great White Pelican is typically slightly smaller but the largest male individuals can be essentially the same size as a typical Dalmatian. However, the Dalmatian differs from this other very large species in that it has curly nape feathers, grey legs and silvery-white (rather than pure white) plumage. In winter, adult pelicans of this species go from silvery-gray to a dingier brownish-gray cream color. Immature birds are grey and lack the pink facial patch of immature White Pelicans. The loose feathers around the forehead of the Dalmatian Pelican can form a W-like-shape on the face right above the bill. In the breeding season it has an orange-red lower mandible and pouch against a yellow upper mandible. In winter, the whole bill is a somewhat dull yellow. The bill, at 36 to 45 cm (14 to 18 in) long, is the second largest of any bird, after the Australian Pelican. The bare skin around the eye can vary from yellow to purplish in color. Among standard measurements, compared to the Great White Pelican, the Dalmatian's tarsus is slightly shorter, at 11.6 to 12.2 cm (4.6 to 4.8 in), but its tail and wing chord length are notably larger, at 22 to 24 cm (8.7 to 9.4 in) long and 68 to 80 cm (27 to 31 in), respectively. When the Dalmatian Pelican is in flight, unlike other pelicans, its wings are solid grayish-white with black tips. It is an elegant soaring bird. When a whole flock of Dalmatian Pelicans is in flight, all its members move in graceful synchrony, their necks held back like a heron's. It is the largest living creature that can fly.
The Dalmatian Pelican is often silent, as most pelicans are, although it can be fairly vocal during the mating season, when it may engage in a wide range of guttural, deep vocalisations, including barks, hisses and grunts.

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Additional Photos by Athanasios Benisis (Hellas) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1207 W: 177 N: 1341] (7089)
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