The pink-backed pelican (Pelecanus rufescens) is a bird of the pelican family. It is a resident breeder in swamps and shallow lakes of Africa, southern Arabia, southern India and is apparently extirpated in Madagascar.

This is a relatively small pelican though by no means a small bird. Length is from 125 to 155 cm (49 to 61 in), wingspan is 2.15–2.9 m (7.1–9.5 ft) and body mass if from 4 to 7 kg (8.8 to 15.4 lb). The bill is 30 to 38 cm (12 to 15 in) in length. The plumage is grey and white, with a pinkish hue on the back occasionally apparent (never in the deep pink of a flamingo). The top of the bill is yellow and the pouch is usually greyish. Breeding adults have long feather plumes on the head.

It shares habitat with the great white pelican which is generally larger and has white instead of greyish plumage.

The pink-backed pelican is found in a range of aquatic habitats, but prefers quiet backwaters with shallow water, avoiding steep, vegetated lake banks. It prefers for freshwater lakes, swamps, large slow-flowing rivers, and seasonal pools but also frequents reservoirs, seasonally flooded land and flood-plains near river mouths. It may occur on alkaline and saline lakes and lagoons, and can sometimes be found along the coast in bays and estuaries (although seldom on open seashore). The species tends to roost and breed in trees (e.g. mangroves), but will also roost on sandy islands, cliffs, coral reefs and sand-dunes.

Nesting trees have many nests built close together. These nests are re-used every year until the trees collapse, although the birds will normally remain in the area. The species nests colonially in trees, reeds or low bushes along waterfronts as well as (less often) on the ground on sandy islands and in mangroves.

The nest is a large heap of sticks and may be 10–50 m above the ground. The female lays two to three large white eggs and later the chicks feed by plunging their heads deep into the adult’s pouch and taking the partially digested regurgitated fish.

There is a fun story to these pelican pictures taken in Odense zoo Denmark. The first image Contact from above I took during a rest on a bench, armed with my Canon 7D attached with a 100 mm prime lens, above me on a pole she landed oriented away from me, and I started shooting her.

I don't know if it was the sound of the camera or whatever it was, but she turned her head upside down and back down towards me, looked very interested at me, and I took the first picture Contact from above therefore the unusual perspective

Now a really fun day at the zoo started. The pelikan flew down and landed right in front of me, put her long beak on my legs and let me hold it, and after a little while, she jumped up and sat up against me, my problem now was my 100 mm prime lens I could not zoom out and get distance to her and dared not try to catch a second lens that was in my backpack, I was afraid to scare her away, so I shot with what was on and hope for the best.

Your question will now be how do I know that it was a she, I shall tell, her boy friend arrived and landed on the bench farthest from where we were sitting and he had absolutely not the same feelings for me as she did, he clearly made me understand that in no ambiguous utterances and poses.

While we were sitting there, him threatening me and her being the sweetest thing ever a school class came by together with one of the zoo staff, and since it was quite a spectacular sight, they stopped and the staff member told them that he had never seen anything like it. Some of the boys from school class began to challenge each other on who dared come close to the pelican I sat with, they were afraid of the beak, and as it always happens one of the boys took courage, jumped toward her to touch her, she jumped down from the bench, turns around with the buttocks against him and sprayed him, so now they know that the dangerous end of a pelican is not the beak. :)

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