In The Desert Are Fish Out Of Water
By Barbara Grijalva, KOLD News 13 Anchor
Arizonans flock to Rocky Point, Mexico, in the spring, and it seems
some Rocky Pointers cruise over to Tucson in the summer. But they
don't mean to.
The summer winds occasionally bring us the endangered California
The Arizona-Sonora Desert
Museum is rehabilitating two of the sea birds right now.
They will not be put on display.
The pelicans are getting plenty of smelt and cool showers, but there's
no place like home.
The wizards at the Desert Museum will get them to San Diego, and
The Desert Museum's Mary Powell-McConnell says, "They have
poor navigational skills. So, they're kind of like Dorothy, winding
up in Oz. They get caught up in the updraft and they wind up in
Powell-McConnell thinks this could be a banner year for pelicans
around here, even better than 2002, when pelicans in Tucson set
We got 18 that year.
Arizona Daily Star; Published: 06.26.2004
The Pelican Hotel
Birds blown off course find brief refuge at Desert Museum
By Kimberly Matas
ARIZONA DAILY STAR
- for photos
Though not as romantic as the swallows returning to Capistrano,
Tucson has its own annual avian refugee - the gangly, long-beaked
Summer storms blow the ocean-loving birds off course and they end
up sweating it out in the Old Pueblo.
Once captured, they go to the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum for
rehabilitation. The first of the season, a California brown pelican,
was picked up Sunday.
Mr. P, as he was named by his caregiver, Mary Powell-McConnell,
is about a year old. At his age, it is not possible to determine
gender, but his keepers have opted to make him a sir, not a ma'am.
"He's a youngster," Powell-McConnell said. "His navigational
skills aren't the best. It's like being Dorothy in Kansas, who winds
up in Oz."
Most years the museum rehabilitates two or three of the wayward
birds, though last year it had a record-breaking 18.
California brown pelicans are an endangered species.
Once mature, they have a large neck pouch used to hold mouthfuls
of fish scooped from the ocean. The pouches are used to collect
rainwater and as a cooling device, too. Mr. P is so young his pouch
isn't fully developed.
Shawnee Riplog-Peterson is curator of mammalogy and ornithology.
She was called to rescue Mr. P from a trailer park near East Fort
Lowell and North Country Club roads.
"These residents woke up and they had a pelican in their front
yard," Riplog-Peterson said. "He was tired and . . . they
did a wonderful job of hosing him down and keeping him cool."
She suspects he was blown in on a storm from Mexico.
After a week of rest and meals of smelt, Mr. P is feeling better,
Powell-McConnell said, and he's getting cocky - lunging at her for
the fish, reveling in his twice-daily showers and taking dips in
his pool. He will be ready for an airplane ride to San Diego next
month, where he will reside, temporarily, in a Sea World pelican
pond before being released.
Pelicans are not on display at the Desert Museum, said Powell-McConnell,
because it does not have a habitat for the birds and they have to
stay quarantined for at least 30 days. By then, most are ready to
To report a pelican, call the Arizona Game and Fish Department at
628-5376. Messages can also be left at the Desert Museum, 883-1380,
* Contact reporter Kimberly Matas at 807-8431 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All content copyright © 1999-2004 AzStarNet, Arizona Daily
Star and its wire services and suppliers ....
to top of page
on Mon, Jun. 28, 2004
Tracking pelicans gives no clues
to why they left
BISMARCK, N.D. - Four of approximately 30,000 white pelicans that
left the Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge in south central North
Dakota have been tracked, but they took different paths, federal
The pelicans still are not giving clues to wildlife officials about
why they abandoned the refuge last month.
Ken Torkelson, a spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
said Monday that officials from the federal Animal and Plant Health
Inspection Service captured four of the adult pelicans before they
left the refuge and attached collars with transmitters to track
All four left Chase Lake on June 2, Torkelson said. They took separate
paths to South Dakota, western North Dakota or toward Minnesota,
he said. One eventually came back near Chase Lake but passed it
and flew north, he said.
"It tells me they've scattered," Torkelson said. "We
kind of think the 30,000 have scattered, as well."
A couple of hundred "loafers," or pelicans not yet of
breeding age, remain at Chase Lake, he said.
The refuge near Medina, spanning about 4,400 acres, had been known
as the home of the largest nesting colony of white pelicans in North
America. Torkelson said he believes it has not seen the last of
"We're fairly confident that they are going to come back next
year," he said.
to top of page
update: June 26, 2004 at 10:32 PM
The mystery of North Dakota's missing white pelicans
Published June 27, 2004
MEDINA, N.D. -- Nobody saw it happen. So far, nobody can explain
But in late May and early June, as many as 27,000 white pelicans
-- the largest nesting colony of the great, gawky birds on the continent
-- abandoned nests, eggs and hatchlings and flew away from Chase
Lake National Wildlife Refuge in central North Dakota.
A smaller flock of 2,000 birds remained in a separate nesting area
a few days longer, but they also abandoned Chase Lake, leaving a
vast, heartbreaking litter of unhatched eggs and dead, featherless
Biologists and others have advanced many theories -- involving disease,
predators, weather, food sources and other factors -- but so far
none has been proven.
Nor is it clear where all those pelicans went before heading to
the Gulf Coast for winter. But larger than usual numbers of pelicans
have been spotted recently on waters near the Canadian border, on
the Yellowstone River in eastern Montana and in wildlife refuges
in South Dakota and Minnesota.
"From now into July, we'd normally see 40 or 50 white pelicans
here," said Wayne Brininger, a biologist at Tamarac National
Wildlife Refuge near Detroit Lakes, Minn.
The refuge lies about 150 miles from Chase Lake.
"About 10 days ago, we had 600 to 1,000 of them on a couple
of lakes, and 1,500 on Flat Lake," he said. "They're spread
out, foraging. They aren't nesting."
Brininger said he's had reports of pelicans in numbers on Leech
and Cass lakes in addition to the usual nesting colonies on Marsh
Lake in the Lac qui Parle Wildlife Area near Appleton and on Lake
of the Woods.
Through bandings and radio transmitters, Chase Lake biologists know
that the pelican diaspora in northern Minnesota includes some of
"They went north, south, east and west," said Ken Torkelson,
a spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Bismarck.
"We wish we knew," he said.
to top of page
on Green Bay
By Frank A. Wood
News-Chronicle, June 27, 2004
Pelicans on Green Bay? Inhabiting the Great Lakes? It looks as though
The first ones were noticed less than 20 years ago, and now there
are an estimated 500 pair that frequent the lower bay in summertime.
They're big, smart birds that apparently found a rich food source
in this area, and are exploiting it.
In the 75 or so years we've lived in the Great Lakes area, we've
never before heard of (or seen!) pelicans, thinking they lived exclusively
in warmer climes. Cormorants have made a real comeback, and we've
had seagulls til hell wouldn't have them, but pelicans?
pelican theories offered: West Nile Virus may be
By Toni Pirkl, The Forum
Published Friday, June 18, 2004
PETTIBONE, N.D. – The number of white pelicans at Chase Lake
has dropped to a just few hundred after more than 35,000 of the
birds lived in the area just a few years ago, and researchers now
think the birds' mysterious disappearance is probably due to a combination
U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials and two researchers from Northern
Prairie Wildlife Research Center discovered that the last group
of white pelicans – about 2,500 of them – were gone
from an island in Chase Lake this week. Now, only about 300 adults
island is one of two at the lake where pelicans nested until the
burgeoning population forced creation of a colony on the shore of
It was there on the peninsula and one of the islands that Chase
Lake refuge staff first found the abandoned nests and discovered
the disappearance of most of the lake's pelicans a few weeks ago.
Since then, officials have kept an eye on the one place still home
to nesting pelicans at Chase Lake but stayed off the island to avoid
disturbing the remaining colony.
"They didn't walk it, but the researchers noticed something
was wrong Monday. They didn't see any pelicans flying," said
Kim Hanson, project leader for the Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge
Complex, which includes Chase Lake Wildlife Refuge. Chase Lake is
on the western edge of Stutsman County.
When officials returned to walk the island Wednesday with Mick Erickson,
Chase Lake refuge manager, they found it littered with hundreds
of young pelican carcasses and an island full of abandoned nests.
"The carcasses were from the newly hatched to 3- and 4-week-olds,"
Hanson said. "It's similar to what we saw in the colony last
year when we lost 50 percent of the chicks due to the West Nile
to top of page
More pelicans abandon nests
By RICHARD HINTON, Bismarck Tribune
More than 2,000 of the American white pelicans remaining at their
nesting site on Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge have pulled
out, abandoning chicks and eggs.
Researchers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Northern
Prairie Wildlife Research Center in Jamestown confirmed the discovery
Wednesday, said Kim Hanson, the project leader for the refuge complex
that includes Chase Lake and Arrowwood NWRs.
"In the area that they covered, they estimated 300 to 400 chick
carcasses and hundreds of abandoned eggs," Hanson said. "There
are about 300 adults remaining on the island."
Waterford on Century
The researchers did not cover the entire island, but they did find
five live pelican chicks, Hanson said. Whether those chicks were
being tended by adults isn't known. Adult pelicans drift away from
chicks when they are disturbed, Hanson said.
There were no signs of new adult mortality, he added.
Dakota, June 10, 2004 — Unexplained disappearance of thousands
of white pelicans at the largest nesting colony of American white
pelicans in North America
pelicans remain a puzzle
By RICHARD HINTON, Bismarck Tribune
Concrete answers right now are as hard to come by as the location
of the thousands of American white pelicans that mysteriously vanished
recently from their nesting sites at Chase
Lake National Wildlife Refuge.
Wildlife biologists and researchers continued to scratch their heads
Wednesday as they tried to puzzle together a reason for an estimated
27,000 pelicans to leave their nests and abandon thousands of eggs.
"We're puzzled," acknowledged Mick Erickson, the project
manager at the refuge, located about 15 miles north of Medina.
Two theories are emerging: a disturbance by either predators or
man or a natural population correction.
No theory, including disease or lack of food, has been discarded.
What is known is that thousands of pelican eggs won't hatch this
year. No one is offering a hard number on the toll of juvenile pelicans.
from the Minneapolis Tribune, June 10: ``We are re-evaluating
our predator management plan,''
The Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge is the home of the largest
known nesting colony of white pelicans in North America. The birds
were noticed missing about two weeks ago, said Kim Hanson, refuge
manager of the Arrowwood complex, which includes Chase Lake.
``We don't think they were killed. We think they abandoned their
nest,'' Hanson said Wednesday.
``We are re-evaluating our predator management plan,'' Hanson said.
``This may be just a normal correction factor - nature taking its
course,'' he said.
to top of page
3, 2004 — White Pelicans Move to Monterey Bay
SHADE OF PELICAN
By VIRGINIA HENNESSEY
Herald Staff Writer
Like many visitors to the Monterey Bay, they flew in for a brief
sojourn and decided it was just too nice to leave.
The food's good, the social scene's happening and, heck, you can't
beat the view, so they're staying, at least until natural instincts
pull them away.
After surprising bird watchers when they showed up a few summers
ago, a flock of American white pelicans has moved into the neighborhood
of Moss Landing and the Salinas River.
Unlike its cousin the brown pelican, the stark white Pelecanus erythrorhynchos
is more typical to interior freshwater locales. They breed on lakes
in far northeastern California and are known to winter in the Central
Valley and on Lake San Antonio.
But somewhere along the line, some of the younger birds, who are
too young to mate, found their way to the coast. On Aug. 25, 2001,
according to a Web site operated by Peninsula
bird expert Don Roberson, a flock of the birds was photographed
for the first time feeding in Moss Landing Harbor.
Apparently, they never left. Short of banding the birds and tracking
them, there's no way of determining if the individual birds are
the same, said Roberson, a Monterey Peninsula Audubon Society board
member, but "it seems to make sense."
And others have found their way here as well. At times, Roberson
said, they've been seen in a flock numbering as many as 120 birds.
At other times, they break into splinter flocks.
Schiedt, of the Department of Fish and Game, said the birds are
so large that scientists have begun to study them with radio telemetry
and have determined they ride thermal streams like turkey vultures,
descending from the Sierra into the Central Valley and returning
to feed their young, all in one day.
After a dangerous decline in their numbers in the 1960s and '70s,
due to conversion of their wetland habitats into agricultural fields,
white pelican populations have rebounded dramatically in recent
years, Roberson said, which is evidenced by their presence on Monterey
"As the overall population in the West has increased in the
last years, ours have, too," he said. "It shows the overall
population is doing better than it used to."
Nevertheless, they remain on Fish and Game's list of "first
of special concern," in large part because of ongoing water
strife in their breeding grounds in Northern California, Roberson
Virginia Hennessey can be reached at 646-4355 or email@example.com.
© 2004 Monterey County Herald and wire service sources. All
to top of page
Pelican Man's Bird Sanctuary is back in operation
Clinic licensed again
The Pelican Man's Bird Sanctuary has taken an important step toward
correcting past mistakes that fueled allegations of mismanagement
and animal abuse.
Last Friday, the Florida Department of Business and Professional
Regulation visited the PMBS clinic.
"We passed inspections on the clinic and hospital with flying
colors and we have our permanent veterinary site permit," PMBS
Executive Director Todd Watson said. "It's been part of the
process of moving forward."
Former PMBS Executive Director Mona Schonbrunn was cited earlier
for not having a veterinary premises permit.
to top of page
man's Bird Sanctuary Shut Down
Sanctuary can't treat birds
Article published Apr 16, 2004
Pelican Man's seeks veterinarians for injured birds after the state
closes down the hospital.
By ROBERT ECKHART
SARASOTA -- The state has shut down the animal hospital at the Pelican
Man's Bird Sanctuary, which has operated without a medical permit
since it opened 15 years ago.
The state also accused a Pelican Man staff member, Mel Beall, 45,
of performing surgery and amputations at the sanctuary without a
veterinary license, a violation that carries a fine of up to $5,000.
The trouble comes amid a difficult year for the well-known Sarasota
A handful of former employees sued last month, saying they were
fired in retaliation for complaining about mismanagement and animal
cruelty. Three of the sanctuary's nine board members resigned.
Thursday was the first day on the job for the new executive director,
Todd Watson, who says that closing the hospital for a while might
be a good thing.
"We're going to use this time to catch our breath," he
said. "This will give us time to really audit the hospital."
The sanctuary will apply for a permit from the state Department
of Business and Professional Regulation, Watson said, but he's not
sure how long that will take.The sanctuary, 1708 Ken Thompson Parkway,
will stay open to visitors.
Its two dozen employees and 300 volunteers are looking for veterinarians
who can care for the 10 to 20 injured birds and animals delivered
there every day.
"We're still rescuing animals," Watson said.
"We'll still endeavor to get any animal that's brought here
to a doctor."
sanctuary was started by Dale
Shields, who found a wounded brown pelican and nursed it back
to health in his bathtub in 1981.
Work on the Pelican Man's Bird Sanctuary started in 1989 on two
acres donated by the city.
The sanctuary's operating expenses are now about $780,000 a year.
"We've got a great story to tell, and certainly nothing to
hide," Watson said.
"Our doors are open. I'm willing to give a guided tour to anyone
who has any questions."
Mission Statement of the Sanctuary:
To help wildlife in distress, to get wildlife well and back into
the wild, to provide care for permanently disabled birds, and to
educate the public about wildlife and our environment.
to top of page
for RECENT 2008, pelican news
Click here for
of the page
to the rest
Click here for December, 2004, pelican news (with links at the bottom
of the page to the rest of 2004.)