The Spot-billed Pelican (Pelecanus philippensis) is a lesser-known pelican species that experienced a significant reduction across its geographic range during the mid-late twentieth century as the result of extirpation of many populations in Asia. Through direct examination of museum skins, we verified the species identification of four nineteenth and twentieth century Spot-billed Pelican specimens from China, including a female specimen that is the northernmost verified distribution record in China (Shanghai) collected during the typical breeding season (24 March 1931), and another individual collected just prior to the breeding season is the most recent historical specimen known from China (20 September 1963). These specimens lend support to the idea that at least some Spot-billed Pelicans were residents (and possible breeders) in China during at least part of the twentieth century. These verified specimens can supply biological material to be used in future multidisciplinary studies about the biology of the extirpated Chinese population, and they may inform future efforts toward the successful reintroduction of this species to China and elsewhere within its former geographic range.
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Vol. 42 • No. 4