These birds are dark in colour with a white stripe from the top of the bill up to the crown and down the sides of the neck. They have long tufted feathers on the top of their heads. It used to be considered a subspecies of the Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis). The Peruvian birds are nearly twice the bulk of the Brown Pelican, averaging 15.4 lb (7 kg) in weight; they are also longer, measuring about 5 ft (1.5 m) overall.
The main breeding season occurs from September to March. Clutch size is usually two or three eggs. Eggs are incubated for approximately 4 to 5 weeks, with the rearing period lasting about 3 months.
This bird feeds on several species of fish. It feeds by diving into the water from flight, like the Brown Pelican.