Atlas of nesting birds in Bulgaria

Dalmatian pelican

(Pelecanus crispus)

Category of conservation concern (IUCN, 2020) – Near threatened

Population size: 2020: 60 – 90 pairs (2007: 14 – 128 pairs)

Distribution pattern

Colonial species, with only one, traditional breeding site at the Srebarna Lake, known since the second half of the 19th century. After 2014, the species formed a new breeding colony in Bulgaria – in a swamp on the Persina Island. During the breeding season, small flocks of non-breeding birds have been recorded in a number of places along the Danube River, in the Burgas wetlands and even in inland water bodies. After 1990, flocks of 40 to 210 individuals have been observed regularly during the breeding season on an unnamed island near the village of Gorni Tsibar, Lom District.

Population estimation for the period 2013 – 2020: During the period 2013-2020, the species has not been observed in 13 squares, where it was found before the year 2013 (without exception, squares with a very low degree of reliability for breeding). There are four active breeding colonies in the country – the Srebarna Lake (known since the second half of the XIX century), the Peschina Marsh (since 2016), the Martvoto Marsh (2020) and the Kalimok-Brushlen Protected Area (2021). The breeding on the island of Persin and in the Kalimok-Brushlen Protected Area is a result of nature protection activities – artificial breeding platforms for pelicans.

Population size in Special Protection Areas of Natura 2000: 60 – 90 pairs (100% of the population). The number of the breeding population in the “Srebarna” SPA is 60 – 81 pairs, and in the “Belene Islands Complex” SPA – 0 – 9 pairs.

Big size map

Breeding distribution 2013 – 2020 – The distribution and the estimation of the population size of the species for the period 2013 – 2020 is presented –

Comparative distribution of the species compared to the first breeding birds atlas (Iankov, 2007): Breeding locality until 2007 | Breeding locality until 2007, confirmed after 2015 – | New breeding locality after 2015. – The breeding localities after 2015 are identified on a base of raw data from


It inhabits wetlands (lakes, swamps, dams, fishponds, etc.), overgrown with reeds and rushes, but with open water. Builds its nests, also, on wooden platforms. The forage habitat during the breeding season is standing fresh water. The proximity of the two habitat-types is a characteristic feature of the traditional breeding sites.

Trends in population changes for the period 2013-2020

Short-term trend of population size:


Long-term trend of population size:

Slightly increasing

Short-term trend of distribution:


Long-term trend of distribution:

Slightly increasing


Drainage of wetlands, changes in the water levels and in the hydrological regime of water bodies during the breeding season, disturbance, poaching, highly pathogenic Influenza A (influenza) in birds – H5N1, electric shocks from the power distribution network, collisions with overhead power lines and wind power generators, terrestrial predators and invasive species.

Svilen Chesmedjiev, Irina Kostadinova