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pelecaniform

any of the relatively large and diverse group of aquatic birds that share the common characteristic of webbing between all four toes. Order Pelecaniformes contains the three suborders Fregatae, Pelecani, and Phaethontes and the six families Ahingidae (ahingas or snakebirds), Phalacrocoracidae (cormorants), Phaethontidae (tropic birds), Fregatidae (frigate birds), Sulidae (gannets and boobies), and Pelecanidae (pelicans). All pelecaniforms are relatively large birds: they range in length from about 40 cm (about 16 inches), excluding the elongated central tail feathers, in the white-tailed tropic bird (Phaethon lepturus) to 1.8 metres (6 feet) in the Dalmatian pelican (Pelecanus crispus).

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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