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Can You Eat Pelican? Well…

Can You Eat Pelican? Well…

Can you eat pelican? Sure, people seem to eat everything under the sun, from snakes to crawfish to alligator tails, and it reportedly all tastes like chicken.

Yet, you haven’t found many pelican dishes. Why?

So, is a pelican edible? And if so, why aren’t many people eating it?

No worries.

This article will answer all your questions about eating pelicans…

Can You Eat Pelican?

Pelican is edible, but it doesn’t taste like chicken. Pelican meat has an oily texture and tastes like fish because pelicans are fish-eating birds. There isn’t much data available regarding the nutritional content of pelicans, but the plus side is that pelican meat is thin and devoid of antibiotics. If you decide to eat pelican meat, it is suggested to heavily season and bake or fry the meat to achieve the best possible flavor. However, you should proceed with caution when it comes to killing pelicans, in order to preserve the species.

Pelican Meat Has a Poor Taste

Sure, pelican meat is perfectly safe to eat, and it won’t make you fall ill, as long as it’s been handled properly, but it doesn’t taste very good.

Most people claim that it tastes like fish, but a few others insist that the flavor resembles that of turkey.

Regardless of the varying opinions on flavoring, it’s agreeable that the meat is dark with an oily texture.

Some people have even insisted that pelicans should not be eaten unless you face starvation. Yeah, it’s that bad.

Health Benefits of Eating Pelican

There’s very little data available to determine whether eating a pelican has any health benefits, and the research that has been conducted has varying results depending on what the pelican had been eating.

The natural assumption is that pelicans eat fish and fish is known to offer many health benefits. Beyond that, it’s really hard to say.

Now, since pelicans are naturally harvested instead of being farm-raised, the meat contains no antibiotics and is as fresh as you can get.

Of course, as with any meat, the pelican does offer a good source of protein, but the amount of protein depends on the pelican’s diet.

Unless you are personally raising your own pelicans, there’s no way to determine what the nutritional content will be.

Pelican Meat Should Be Seasoned, Baked, or Fried

If you are adventurous enough to try pelican meat at home, it’s suggested to heavily season the meat to combat the bland or fishy flavor.

And that may not even be enough. It’s been said that even a heavily salted pelican still may have a distasteful fishy flavor.

The recommended spices for preparing pelican meat include salt, pepper, garlic, and oregano.

For best results, you should deep-fry your pelican meat and generously coat both the front and back sides of the fillet with flour and seasoning.

If you prefer to bake your pelican meat, you should use either butter or canola oil instead of flour.

Now, this doesn’t mean that the pelican meat will taste just as good as sirloin, but it’s the best possible method of preparing and cooking pelican, so it will at least taste good enough for dinner.

Consequences of Killing and Harvesting Pelicans

If you decide to hunt down a pelican, you should first double-check that it’s okay to do so.

Although pelicans aren’t an endangered species as of yet, hunting pelicans is unnecessary to maintain their population.

Eventually, this beautiful bird species may face extinction if people regularly begin to hunt and harvest them as a food source.

Most pelicans travel in groups, except for the pink-backed or Dalmatian pelican species.

Often, you will see groups of pelicans feeding together or lounging on the beach in the hot sun, which can make them easy targets for hunting.

However, they are known to soar high up in the sky before swooping down into the water to feed, so timing is everything.

While most pelicans feed solely on fish, they have been known to eat frogs, crabs, and insects, so you truly can’t count on a plate of pelican meat tasting like a piece of salmon.

Sure, you can easily hunt down a pelican on your next Florida vacation and fry it up for dinner, but is it even worth the hassle?

It may be best to bring home a nice Instagram pic of pelicans as a souvenir, instead of the pelican itself.

Frequently Asked Questions About Can You Eat Pelican

Why Shouldn’t You Feed Pelicans?

If you are considering raising and feeding your own pelican flock, think again. Pelicans are naturally keen on consuming whole, fresh, live fish and particularly hunt for the types of fish with digestible bones. Pelicans aren’t the type of bird that you can toss bread and birdseed to. They have specific dietary needs.

Do Pelicans Carry Disease?

Yes. Some pelican species in North America have been known to carry West Nile virus and Type C botulism toxins, which is yet another reason that pelicans are rarely listed on the dinner menu.

Do Pelicans Eat Everything?

Not really, but they have been known to consume frogs, snakes, and even other birds if they are facing the possibility of starvation. Mainly they feed on fish, though.


So, if you are thinking about eating a pelican, it’s fine to do so, but you may still want to think twice.

Aside from hunting posing a threat of extinction, pelicans don’t taste very good.

But hey, if you are hungry enough or just want to try something new, yes, you can eat a pelican.