Pelican toby jug produced in Czechoslovakia circa 1930. Pelicans are a genus of large water birds that are characterized by a long beak and a large throat pouch used for catching prey and draining water from the scooped-up contents before swallowing. They have predominantly pale plumage. The bills, pouches, and bare facial skin of all pelicans become brightly colored before the breeding season. Pelicans have a patchy global distribution, ranging the tropics to the temperate zones, though they are absent from interior South America, polar regions and the open ocean.