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Pelicans, Ibises, Storks and their Allies photographed in Wetland and Coastal Habitat

The featured birds can be found in wetland and coastal habitats; such as lakes, rivers, swamps, mudflats and shoreline; forests are important to some species especially for breeding. They are cosmopolitan birds found in all regions except the Antarctic although each family may only inhabit a specific region or ecozone.

Although the galleries are an ecliptic mix of images from three different orders and five different families, which include images of pelicans, ibises, spoonbills, storks, flamingos, anhingas, cormorants and shags thy are linked by common habitat and similar food preferences.


Pelicans are cosmopolitan birds from the Pelecaniformes order, Pelecanidae family that are found in stretches of coastal and inland water from tropical to warmer temperate zones.

Australian Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus) range is from western Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Australia and some western Pacific Island. It’s the biggest pelican species having a wingspan around 2.5 metres and a long elongated bill. They normally fish by cooperative feeding feasting on fish. They also hunt birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects and crustaceans. I photographed them on the shores of Lake Albert in South Australia and at the Gippsland Lakes in Victoria.

Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) feed mainly on fish, which they hunt by diving into the water. They also steal fish scraps from areas where there are fishing boats. It’s the smallest of the species and can be found in the neotropic region. I photographed them diving into the sea of the northern Trinidadian coast at Grande Riviere and at the fishing pier at the Orange Valley Mudflats.

Cormorants and Shags

Originally listed under the traditional taxonomy order of Pelecaniformes, cormorants and shags have been moved to the new Suliformes order. Anhingas, cormorants and shag do not have waterproof plumage so they sit low in the water, the lack of buoyancy allows them to dive deep in search of prey. Cormorants are usually found in groups while shags are more solitary coastal birds.

My image of the anhinga from the Anhingidae family is from Trinidad and the other images are of Phalacrocoracidae, the Cormorants and Shags family that I photographed in Australasia. Eight common species are featured; both the spotted shag and Stewart shag are endemic to New Zealand the latter being IUCN categorised as vulnerable.

Featured Pelicans, Anhingas, Cormorants and Shags

Pelecaniformes order

 Pelecanidae (Pelicans) family

Australian Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus)

Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis)

Suliformes order

Anhingidae (Anhinga) family

Anhinga (Anhinga Anhinga)

Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags) family

Little Black Cormorant (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris)

Little Pied Cormorant (Microcarbo melanoleucos)

Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)

Great Pied Cormorant (Phalacrocorax varius)

Spotted Shag (Stictocarbo punctatus)

Stewart Shag (Phalacrocorax chalconotus) [VU]

Ibises and Spoonbills

Ibises and spoonbills are more cosmopolitan birds from the Pelecaniformes order from the Threskiornithidae family that are found in all regions except Antarctic, with the greatest diversity in tropics. Habitat varies from wetlands to grassland and arid or semi-arid areas.

Australian White Ibis (Threskiornis moluccus) is widespread in Australia occupying swamp, grassland, urban parks and garden habitats. It feeds on small aquatic animals, fish and insects and processed food in urban environments. The birds I photographed were in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney.

Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber) photographed at the Orange Valley mudflats in Trinidad. The species often gathers in large flocks in wetlands, marsh, swamps and mudflats habitat. I also photographed them flying into Trinidad’s Caroni Swamp to roost. The species is mainly found in the north-west part of South America it’s a non-breeding visitor to Trinidad. They feed on shrimp and insects using its long bill as a probe.

I photographed the Royal Spoonbill (Platalea regia) in several places on New Zealand's South Island. This large bird feeds individually or in groups hunting fish, aquatic animals and amphibians. They catch prey using several methods; the most distinctive is when the bird makes slow side to side movements with the open bill. Inside the spoon papillae detect vibrations the prey makes, the bird then scoops up the prey by lifting the bill and swallowing.


Storks are from the Ciconiidae family, which is now placed in the Ciconiiformes order having been moved from Pelecaniformes order.

The Painted stork (Mycteria leucocephala) is another cosmopolitan bird family found in all regions except Antarctic. I photographed this species at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve in Singapore and found in throughout India and SE Asia in a variety of wetlands, grassland and forest. A large species flock together in shallow waters to forage for food mainly for fish.

Milky Storks (Mycteria cinerea) are IUCN categorised as endangered species with around 1500 mature individuals in parts of South East Asia region. In 2015 I photographed birds at both Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve and the main lake in the Japanese Garden in Jurong.


Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus) is a very large bird from the Phoenicopteriformes order, Phoenicopteridae family and I've included it here for convenience. I image of these birds are from a visit to the Camargue in 1997.

Featured Ibises, Spoonbills, Storks and Flamingos

Pelecaniformes order

Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills) family

Australian White Ibis (Threskiornis moluccus)

Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber)

Royal Spoonbill (Platalea regia)

Ciconiiformes order

Ciconiidae (Storks) family

Painted stork (Mycteria leucocephala) [NT]

Milky Stork (Mycteria cinerea) [EN]

Phoenicopteriformes order

Phoenicopteridae (Flamingos) family

Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus)


IUCN categories: [EN] Endangered, [VU] Vulnerable, [NT] Near Threatened.

IUCN: International Union for Conservation of Nature (2016). [Online] Available from: [Accessed 22nd March 2016].

Australian Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus) Gippsland Lakes, Victoria, Australia, 2013. Australian Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus) Gippsland Lakes, Victoria, Australia, 2013 Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis), flying, Grande Riviere, Trinidad, 2015 Great Pied Cormorant (Phalacrocorax varius), Kaikoura Peninsula, New Zealand, 2015 Little Pied Cormorant (Microcarbo melanoleucos), Lakes, Entrance, Gippsland, Australia, 2013 Australian Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus) Lakes Entrance, Victoria, Australia, 2013 Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga), La Vaga, Trinidad, 2015 Great Cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo), Point Addis, Great Otway National Park, Victoria, Australia, 2013 Spotted Shag (Stictocarbo punctatus), Taiaroa Head, Otago, New Zealand, 2015 Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis), Orange Valley Mudflats, Trinidad, 2105 Stewart Shag (Phalacrocorax chalconotus), Breeding Colony, Taiaroa Head, Otago, New Zealand, 2015 Little Black Cormorant (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris), Lakes, Entrance, Gippsland, Australia, 2013 Milky Stork (Mycteria cinerea), Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Singapore, 2015 Painted stork (Mycteria leucocephala), Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Singapore, 2015 Painted storks (Mycteria leucocephala), Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, Singapore, 2013 Royal Spoonbill (Platalea regia), Tahakopa River and Scenic Reserve, New Zealand, 2015 Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber), Orange Valley Mudflats, Trinidad, 2015 Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus), Camargue, France, 1997 Australian White Ibis (Threskiornis moluccus), Sydney Royal Botanic Gardens, New South Wales, Australia, 2013 Scarlet Ibis (Eudocimus ruber), Orange Valley Mudflats, Trinidad, 2015