It is a very large and plump bird; its overall length is about 50–67 inches (130–170 cm), courtesy of the huge beak which measures 13–14.4 inches (330–370 mm) in males and 10.4–13 in (260–330 mm) in females. It has a wingspan of about 95–120 in (240–300 cm).
Apart from the difference in size, males and females look exactly alike. Immature birds have light grey plumage with darker brownish nape and remiges. Their bare parts are dull grey. Hatchlings are naked at first, then grow white down feathers all over, before moulting to the immature plumage.
Breeding on lakes throughout the northern Great Plains and mountain West, the American White Pelican is one of the largest birds in North America. It winters along the coasts, but breeds only inland