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The Spot-billed Pelican is a relatively small pelican but still a large bird. It is 125–152 cm (49–60 in) long and a weight of 4.1–6 kg (9-13.2 lbs). It is mainly white, with a grey crest, hindneck and a brownish tail. The feathers on the hind neck are curly and form a greyish nape crest. The pouch is pink to purplish and has large pale spots, and is also spotted on the sides of the upper mandible. The tip of the bill (or nail) is yellow to orange. In breeding plumage, the skin at the base of the beak is dark and the orbital patch is pink. In flight they look not unlike the Dalmatian Pelican but the tertials and inner secondaries are darker and a pale band runs along the greater coverts. The tail is rounder
The species is found to breed only in peninsular India, Sri Lanka and in Cambodia. A few birds from India are known to winter in the Gangetic plains but reports of its presence in many other parts of the region such as the Maldives, Pakistan and Bangladesh has been questioned. The main habitat is in shallow lowland freshwaters. The Spot-billed Pelican is not migratory but are known to make local movements and are more widely distributed in the non-breeding season.