Difference Between Pelicans and Storks

Pelicans vs Storks

Pelicans and storks are two interesting birds of two different orders. They exhibit a range of dissimilarities between them. However, both pelicans and storks are large-bodied, but they both have an excellent flight. The differences are important to notice and discuss although some of them are obvious for even an averaged man. This article intends to discuss some of the interesting differences between pelicans and storks.


Pelicans are large-bodied birds of the Order: Pelecaniformes. There are eight species of extant pelicans, and they all belong to the Genus: Pelecanus. However, this genus has been a greatly diversified one, as fossil evidences reveal that there were more than 10 species of Pelecanus. Pelicans have a characteristic pouch attached to their lower bill. The smallest pelican (Brown pelican) has a wingspan of 1.8 metres, while the largest one (Dalmatian pelican) has it up to three metres. They are in fact, a very important group as the largest bill of any bird belongs to Australian pelican. Their tail is very short and square. They have strong legs with webbed toes for swimming. Pelican’s flight is graceful and strong with heavy flaps. Their calls are croaks and grunts, ant not famous for singing, but they do have a syrinx to produce sounds. Pelican nesting is of two main types, as some species (Australian, Dalmatian, Great White, and American White pelicans) nest on the ground and others (Pink-backed, Spot-billed, Brown, and Peruvian pelicans) nest on trees. Sexual partners stay together only for one particular season and area only in pelicans.


Storks are long-legged and long-necked birds of the Order: Ciconiiformes. There are 19 species of living storks in the world, described under six genera and some of the prime examples of them are Black-necked stork, Painted Stork, Openbills, Woolly-necked stork, adjutants, and Marabou stork. Their relatives are spoonbills and ibises, but unlike them storks like to live in both dry and wet habitats. Most of the stork species are migratory birds. They have good adaptations to fly over long distances by having long and broad wings, which are strong. Marabou stork has the largest wingspan, which is almost three metres. The interesting characteristic about storks is that the absence of syrinx muscles or poorly developed vocal gland, which has made them mute. However, they can produce sounds by snapping their strong bills. Their food habits are carnivorous, and their diet could include frogs, fish, earthworms, and even small mammals. Storks often use soaring and gliding flight to conserve energy while migrating long distances. Storks build large platform nests; those are two metres wide and three metres deep on large trees, or on rock ledges. They make those nests for long-term usage, revealing the fact that storks are homebound birds. A female, after mating with her partner, incubates the eggs with the help of the male.

What is the difference between Pelicans and Storks?

• Diversity is more than two times higher among storks than in pelicans.

• Pelicans are larger and heavier than storks.

• Storks have a longer neck compared to pelicans.

• Pelicans have a characteristic pouch as a part of their bill, but not in storks.

• Pelicans have the largest bill among all the birds. However, stork bills are not small but not larger than pelicans’.

• Storks are mute, but pelicans make sounds from their syrinx.

• Pelicans have strongly webbed toes, while toes of storks have slightly webbed toes.

• Storks are homebound birds with lifelong partners, but pelicans stay with their sexual mates only for one breeding season.