Brown Pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) fly low over the waves along the Mendocino Coast in single file with one straggler, flapping and gliding in unison. Their feeding behavior is spectacular, as they plunge headlong into the water in pursuit of fish.
The eight living pelican species are traditionally divided into two groups, one containing four ground-nesters with mainly white adult plumage, and one containing four grey- or brown-plumaged species which nest preferentially in trees.
The American brown pelican usually plunge-dives head-first for its prey, from a height as great as 10–20 m (33–66 ft), especially for anchovies and menhaden. The only other pelican to feed using a similar technique is the Peruvian pelican, but its dives are typically from a lower height than the brown pelican.