Stork Vs Pelican Vs Crane | What Are The Differences Between Them?

Storks, pelicans, and cranes are birds that are endemic in wetlands and freshwater areas.

These birds are no doubt alike in some ways. However, there are differences in their appearances, habits, reproduction, and others that you might not have taken note of in these birds.

Here, you will have knowledge of the differences that make each of these large birds unique.

What are the differences between a Pelican and a Stork?

Both pelicans and storks spend a significant amount of time in the water. Pelicans are larger than storks. They also have a pouch on the bottom of their bills and webbed feet, which the stork does not have.

The stork, on the other hand, is intriguing and one-of-a-kind.

Stork Vs Pelican Vs Crane | Biological Comparison | Family, Origin, Size, and Colors

DifferencesStorkPelicanCrane
FamilyCiconiidaePelecanidaeArdeidae
OriginNorway, Germany, and other parts of Northern Europe.Luberon in southeastern France.Eastern Africa.
Size Length: 100 -115cmWingspan: 115 – 215cmWeight: 2.3 – 4.5kgLength: 130 – 180cmWingspan: 240 – 300cm Weight: 4 – 8.2kgLength: 90 – 176cmWingspan: 180 – 240cmWeight: 3.5 – 12kg
ColorsBlack, white, and red.The primary color is white.Brown, grey, and white.

Pelican Species

There are seven species of Pelicans in existence today. 

They are; 

  • Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis), 
  • Dalmatian Pelican (Pelecanus crispus), 
  • American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos), 
  • Australian Pelican (Pelecanus conspicillatus)
  • Great White Pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus)
  • Pink-backed Pelican (Pelecanus rufescens),  
  • Spot-Billed Pelican (Pelecanus philippensis).

Stork Species

There are nineteen known species of storks. 

They are; 

  • African Openbill Stork – (Anastomus lamelligerus), 
  • Painted Stork – (Mycteria leucocephala), 
  • Wood Stork  – (Mycteria Americana), 
  • Storm’s Stork – (Ciconia stormi), 
  • Oriental Stork – (Ciconia boyciana), 
  • Milky Stork – (Mycteria cinerea),  
  • Greater Adjutant Stork – (Leptoptilos dubius),
  • Saddle-Billed Stork – (Ephippiorhynchus senegalensis), 
  • Black Stork – (Ciconia nigra), 
  • Woolly-Necked Stork – (Ciconia episcopus), 
  • Marabou Stork – (Leptoptilos crumeniferus), 
  • Yellow-Billed Stork – (Mycteria ibis)
  • Maguari Stork – (Ciconia maguari), 
  • Abdim’s Stork – (Ciconia abdimii), 
  • Lesser Adjutant Stork – (Leptoptilos javanicus).
  • Asian Openbill Stork – (Anastomus oscitans), 
  • Jabiru Stork – (Jabiru mycteria), 
  • Black-Necked Stork – (Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus), 
  • White Stork – (Ciconia ciconia), 

Crane Species

There are fifteen known species of crane. 

They are; 

  • Brolga Crane (Grus rubicundus), 
  • Demoiselle Crane (Anthropoides virgo), 
  • Siberian Crane (Leucogeranus leucogeranus), 
  • Black-Crowned Crane (Balearica pavonina)
  • Sarus Crane (Grus antigone), 
  • Whooping Crane (Grus americana), 
  • Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis), 
  • Common Crane (Grus grus), 
  • White-Napped Crane (Grus vipio), 
  • Wattled Crane (Bugeranus carunculatus), 
  • Hooded Crane (Grus monacha), 
  • Red-Crowned Crane (Grus japonensis), 
  • Grey Crowned Crane (Balearica regulorum), 
  • Black-Necked Crane (Grus nigricollis), 
  • Blue Crane (Anthropoides paradiseus).

Differences in Appearance

Pelican Vs Stork: Differences in Appearance

The size of a pelican and a stork is the most obvious way to tell them apart. 

Pelicans tend to be larger than storks. Pelicans can weigh up to 30 pounds and grow to be 70 inches long, making them one of the largest birds in North America and elsewhere.

Pelican Vs Crane: Differences in Appearance

Pelicans and cranes are very similar in appearance, but with few differences. 

The American white pelican and the whooping crane is a perfect example. The American white pelican is similar to the whooping crane in coloration, but it has black along the entire length of the wing, and its legs do not extend in flight due to their short length.

Stork Vs Crane: Differences in Appearance

While storks and cranes have similar appearances, storks have a larger head and neck, as well as longer and thicker bills than cranes.

Which is smarter? Pelican Vs Stork Vs Crane?

Although pelicans possess larger feet and wings, than both storks and cranes, they are smarter than the latter two birds.

Stork Vs Pelican Vs Crane: Differences in Habitats

Storks are endemic in Africa, Asia, and Europe. Few species are also found in Australia, Florida, and Argentina. 

Pelicans are common in the freshwaters of regions close to the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans. While Cranes live in African savannahs, and the wetlands of North America, Australia, and Eurasia. 

Differences in Diet and Food Habits | What do Stork, Pelican, and Crane eat?

Storks and pelicans are carnivorous birds that prey on fish, insects, and other small amphibians for food. Cranes on the other hand are omnivores. 

Apart from preying on small reptiles and mammals for food, cranes also feed on snails, seeds, nuts, acorns, and berries.

Differences in Matting, Reproduction, and Breeding:

Seasonal monogamy is a behavioral feature of pelicans. 

Pelicans team up with one mate for the duration of the mating season and remain with that mate thereafter. They may or may not have the same mate for the upcoming breeding season. 

At the breeding site, courtship takes place as the neighborhood breeding population congregates. 

Cranes are also monogamous birds. Unlike pelicans, their monogamy is for life. A male and a female crane remain as partners throughout their existence. The pairs maintain their territory and shield their offerings from predators during breeding. 

In the case of the stork, some species may change mates when migrating to another region and may migrate without a mate. 

Storks’ fame stems from their large size, serial monogamy, and devotion to a single nesting site.

Similarities Between Pelican, Stork, and Crane:

Pelicans, storks, and cranes are stunning wild wetland/freshwater birds that can fly for long stretches of time and at enormous heights. 

Their enormous and broad wings, which are extremely powerful in nature, demonstrate their outstanding capacity for long-distance flying.

Are Pelican, Stork, and Crane the same and Related?

Though they share some similar features, they are not the same and are not closely related. 

Pelicans belong to the Pelecanidae family, storks are members of the Ciconiidae family, while cranes are from the lineage of Ardeidae.

Can you own a Pelican or Stork or Crane as a Pet?

Pelicans, storks, and cranes do not make good pets because of their large size and feeding habits. It is a crime to own a stork and sandhill crane pets in most parts of the world.

What Birds look like Pelicans?

Birds that share a striking resemblance with pelicans are the Wood Stork, Eurasian Spoonbill, American White Ibis, Whooping Crane, Royal Spoonbill, Great Egret, Trumpeter Swan, Snow Goose, Australian Pelican, and the Brown Pelican.

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Intro Video - Backtobirds