Ariz-Son. Desert Museum 1, 2-sets
record | Australia | Chase
Lake | Die-off "natural"
| Grey Pelicans | Heermann's
Gull | Humboldt Bay | hurricane
damage | Marcos Island |
NWT | Pelican Migration
| Ukraine-Danube 1, US
warning | Whooping Cranes
| West Nile Virus |
symbiotic relationship, Heerman's Gull and Brown Pelican
stands out from the flock
September 30, 2004, BILL MONROE
The gull held back a little, as if the unruly melee of raucous
glaucous, herring and California gulls was just, well, undignified.
We were tossing unused herring to birds that perch on the
Hammond Harbor walls like antagonists in an Alfred Hitchcock
movie, waiting for just this treat from boats returning
to port after a day's fishing on the lower Columbia River.
But while the Heermann's gull seems above the pack-frenzy
mentality of its cousins, this single bird did come after
a few solitary baits I tossed its way when the others were
busy fighting each other.
I'm not a big gull fan, but I do relish the sight of a Heermann's
gull, perhaps because they're so easy to recognize. Heermann's
gulls are almost regal, with deep, rich gray feathers over
nearly the entire body instead of the standard (and kind
of boring, really) gray/white of the more ubiquitous gull
Their distinction, though, is a bright orange -- there's
that color again, Beaver fans -- bill tipped in black. The
color combination is as refreshing to see on the water as
a bright wood duck in the marsh or a brilliant goldfinch
at the feeder.
Better hurry, though, if you want to see them this year.
Heermann's gulls -- named for Adolphus Heermann, a doctor
and Army officer who first described them during a railroad
survey -- follow the unusual behavior of brown pelicans
that breed along the California coast (and farther south),
then move north through the summer to feed.
By the end of October, most will head back south to wait
for the next breeding season.
In fact, according to Kathy Merrifield in Birds of Oregon:
A General Reference, Heermann's gulls may not be in the
unruly gang following boats, but there is a reason
they come north with the pelicans.
"Often steal food from brown pelicans. May take fish
directly from the pelicans' bills immediately after a dive
or claim food that pelicans have located, discarded or disturbed,"
read her field notes about Heermann's gulls. One study in
the Gulf of California measured a 13 percent rate of attempted
theft by Heermann's gulls following pelican dives.
Heermann's stick close to the coast and lower bays, jetties
and beaches, the reference guide says.
Which is just fine with me, too.
All the more reason for me to go fishing.
And to not catch anything and have leftover bait.
Bill Monroe: 503-221-8231; email@example.com
2004 Oregon Live. http://www.oregonlive.com/gardencenter/oregonian/bill_monroe/index.ssf?/base/homes_gardens/1096458938252200.xml
whooping cranes confirmed yet
ND • September 29, 2004 • 12:38
By RICHARD HINTON, Bismarck Tribune
Two whooping cranes have been reported so far in North Dakota
during the endangered birds' fall migration, but neither
sighting could be confirmed.
That bird was "quite a ways east" of whooping
cranes' usual migration corridor, which is "approximately
100 miles either side of the Missouri River," added
Knutsen, who is the state's whooping crane coordinator.
Knutsen expects to receive more reports of sightings in
the coming weeks.
"We'll just have that many more people out there looking
when the nonresident waterfowl season opener rolls around,"
he said. "There definitely will be more people with
eyes looking around." The nonresident waterfowl season
An estimated 234 rare whoopers, including 41 juveniles,
are making their annual migration from their summer breeding
grounds at Wood Buffalo National Park in Canada's Northwest
Territories to their winter home in the Aransas National
Wildlife Refuge and surrounding marshes on the Texas Gulf
Coast. The journey is approximately 2,500 miles.
Wally Jobman, a USFWS biologist in Grand Island, Neb., and
the coordinator of the migration monitoring project for
the Wood Buffalo-Aransas flock, guesses the whoopers are
still in Canada.
Whooping cranes, the tallest birds in North America at nearly
5 feet, are white with black wingtips that are visible only
when they fly.
In flight, their long necks stretch straight forward, and
their legs extend past their tails. They usually migrate
in flocks of two to seven, and they sometimes are mixed
in with sandhill cranes.
Pelicans, snow geese, swans, herons and egrets often
can be mistaken for whooping cranes.
Pelicans, Adjutant storks sighted in Bhitarkanika
Sept 25. (PTI):
Pelicans and Lesser Adjutant Storks - two of highly threatened
species of birds - have been sighted by wildlife personnel
in Orissa's Bhitarkanika
national park. (See http://www.indianjungles.com/170703c.htm
for the troubles facing the park, one of the finest mangrove
eco-systems in India.)
The birds, sighted in the park's Bagagahan heronry, are
listed among the hightly extinct species in the International
Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)'s red book data.
On rare occasions, these birds were sighted at the Chilika
lake in the past.
The enumerators in Bhitarkanika spotted hardly five
Adjutant Storks and 22 Grey Pelicans recently.
However, not a single nest of these threatened birds had
been sighted so far despite a thorough search during the
last one month, the sources said.
Sproadic sighting of Grey Pelicans in Bhitarkanika had been
reported in 2001.
Meanwhile, the chirpy cacophony of the avian species has
yet against taken centrestage in the park with an estimated
25,000 local migrant birds arriving in the Bagagahana heronry
during the monsoon. About 13,000 nests had been counted
Pelicans preparing for migration
- Thursday, September 23, 2004
pelicans and cormorants are staging for pre-migration, according
to Bill Thrune, Upper
Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge
"Many of the smaller bird species have left the area,
including orioles, and I've seen peregrine falcons over
the river. We usually don't see many unless they're migrating,"
The refuge service will begin their fall waterfowl flight
counts next week, in time to get information to Wisconsin
hunters for the Oct. 2 duck season opener.
The first bull elk bugling was heard two weeks ago near
Clam Lake, in Ashland County, an indication of pre-rut activity
in the experimental elk gang that was released in Wisconsin
Australia, Pelicans Are Part of The Picture
Wednesday, 22 September 2004
SEABIRDS, and in particular pelicans, are integral
parts of the coastal image to tourists and shouldn't be
prevented from landing on streetlights, according to Country
And last week's meeting of Eurobodalla Shire Council's Works
Committee was told by Community Works director Guy Brantingham
that seemed to be a reasonable position. Country Energy
had indicated it would not provide further deterrents on
street lights, unless formally asked to by Council.
Mr Brantingham said Country Energy had advised that customers
saw pelicans sitting on Beach Road streetlights in Batemans
Bay as a traffic hazard.
"Country Energy noted that while there are some deterrents
available to discourage bird landings the installation had
caused some negative publicity due to injuries being sustained
by the birds attempting to land on the lights," Mr
Brantingham told councillors.
He said Council had previously installed bird spikes on
walkway lights on the Bay's Promenade, and that Waterways
used deterrents on navigation lights to prevent damage to
"Country Energy has indicated that the pelicans
are not presenting any threat, either mechanically or electrically,
to the power lines or their fittings," Mr
"While Council has received some complaints in relation
to bird droppings on the footpath below the street lights
in Beach Road the problem is not considered a hazard to
pedestrians or motorists."
Councillors decided to take no action about the pelicans
using the Beach Road traffic lights despite a warning by
Cr Allan Brown of the possibility of pelican poo landing
on a windscreen, causing a motorist to swerve onto the footpath
and killing pedestrians.
Good advice from Marcos Island,
By EVANGELYNE GREENE, Special to the Eagle
September 22, 2004
...Pelicans are capturing my attention more frequently as
I wander around the canal-lined streets of Goodland.
They observe our lives patiently as they rest and wait for
the next fishing expedition. Tourists, especially, seem
to love to watch the pelicans as they "mooch"
from anglers at the end of the day.
This generosity, however, can kill brown pelicans. Inexperienced
fishermen don't realize that pelicans can't digest the bones
of larger fish, such as grouper. The large bone pieces tear
the stomach and lead to a slow death.
Big morsels are harmful also. Please put
big-boned fish in a secure plastic container. Share scraps
of fish or bone from small mullet, pinfish or grunts if
you feel you must. Leave the big bones safely stored for
the trash collectors to dispose of, please!
also this 1999 news release from the University of Florida:
Fishermen killing Brown Pelicans with Kindness <http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/04/990426062257.htm>
Unusual sight in Alamogordo, NM!
finds dead pelican in yard
Sep 14, 2004, 11:05 am
In the early morning sunlight, Bob Foree thought the bright,
white form on the ground was a sheepskin that his neighbor
had dropped while loading his trailer.
He was shocked to discover a dead pelican at 23 Cotton Ave.
The large, white bird with a long, orange bill, lay on gravel
near the trailer.
“I have cats,” Foree said, “and they’re
probably intimidated right now. But once they see it’s
not moving at all, they’ll come over.”
According to Steve Diehl, Alameda
Park Zoo director, the dead bird was a California Pelican.
He said the fowl could have come from the West or Gulf coasts,
but that it was “definitely lost.” From his
initial examination, he found no obvious gunshot wounds,
he said, but that it was “low on weight” so
it may have been sick or just blown off course. A necropsy
would determine the cause of death, but with no one paying
for the procedure, the bird would be taken to the Humane
Society for disposal, he said.
Pelicans can have wing spans up to six feet long and generally
weigh up to 25 to 30 pounds, Diehl said. The zoo no longer
has pelicans, he said, because they have a bad habit of
drowning other animals, like ducks. (sic!)
flood bay: Heavy clutch sends birds seeking food
By John Driscoll
Times-Standard; Monday, September 13, 2004
In a year when California brown pelicans have bred themselves
into starvation in some areas, the North Coast's abundant
anchovies and sardines have provided a culinary haven for
the hungry birds.
The pelicans are everywhere they usually aren't this year.
More than two dozen have shown up in the Arizona desert.
Hundreds marauded docks in Mexico demanding handouts from
Here, they've packed into Humboldt Bay and have
been roosting in significant numbers in unusual spots like
Big Lagoon and Stone Lagoon.
"They're just cramming themselves into places we've
never seen them," said Redwood National and State Parks
fish and wildlife biologist Keith Bensen.
This breeding year's story begins in early November 2003
on West Anacapa Island off the coast of Southern California.
It was the earliest onset of breeding ever known. And biologists
were discovering large numbers of new nests through mid-June.
In all, at least 6,000 pairs nested during the season, perhaps
the largest on record for the island.
In some islands off Mexico, breeding was occurring where
it hadn't since the 1920s.
When Frank Gress, a researcher with the University of California
at Davis visited Ensenda, Mexico, this summer, he saw young
pelicans making a nuisance of themselves, hitting up vendors
and tourists for food. One vendor tried to shoo them off
with a high-pressure hose.
"This scene, to say the least, was very bizarre,"
Gress wrote in an e-mail to pelican watchers in July.
Breeding was also heavy in the Gulf of California in May.
Once pelicans are on their nests, local food supplies become
increasingly important, Gress wrote. When the fish stocks
around nesting areas vanish, the breeding pelicans often
abandon their nests, often to the demise of their young.
The California brown pelicans' desperate search for food
may be why more of them have shown up off the North Coast
than is usual.
Typically, pelicans show up in the summer following
the food-chain kick-start event called upwelling. Northwest
winds stir up nutrient rich waters from the bottom of the
ocean, which begins the plankton-fish-pelican cycle.
Anchovies and sardines are the favored target for brown
pelicans, and the fish are generally abundant in years when
El Niño doesn't set in.
"You can track anchovy abundance and plot them with
the number of birds," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologist
The rocks off the coast from Trinidad north are important
resting areas for pelicans, where they are safe from predators.
They roost most numerously on White Rock, just south of
the Klamath River's mouth.
Since biologists aren't noticing dead or starving
pelicans, Bensen theorized they haven't maxed out the area's
food supply. "I think there are enough resources here
to absorb it," Bensen said.
That's amazing for the simple fact that pelicans are voracious
feeders. Adults weigh 9 pounds and have a wingspan of 6
feet. Their long bills with the trademark pouch make them
look hungry. But while hunger can get the best of the birds
in a booming breeding season, the now-populous birds were
once nearly done in by something unnatural: DDT.
In 1970, the brown pelican was placed on the endangered
species list. A DDT pesticide plant in Los Angeles sent
its effluent into the sea around the pelican's breeding
The chemical builds up as it climbs the food chain, and
by the time it reached the pelican, it had disastrous effects.
DDT prevents female pelicans from forming a solid egg shell,
dooming countless chicks before they ever hatched. The bald
eagle and the peregrine falcon were also severely affected.
With the banning of DDT, the eggs are most often
solid these days, and the population of pelicans -- though
it ebbs and flows significantly -- is growing, despite some
residual DDT contamination.
"It's a marvelous conservation success story which
the world doesn't get a lot of," Bensen said.
The brown pelican is most numerous in this area in September
and October, and will begin heading south to breed in November.
It's hard to miss them.
Pelicans are just flat out goofy. Bensen thinks it's because
of their "big, stupid feet," visible while they're
out of the water.
But their unquenchable appetite also prompts them to do
silly things. Bensen has watched young birds power-diving
into schools of fish in too-shallow water. Presumably they
ended up seeing stars.
The grace of the pelican is in flight. They can travel long
distances without flapping their wings, riding cushions
of air generated by ocean surf.
Called dynamic soaring, the birds will catch the front end
of a wave, ride the current of air being pushed ahead of
the wave, until the water breaks. The pelican rises up and
catches the next wave.
Bensen swears he saw one bird get "tubed," surfer
speak for being inside the curl of a breaking wave. He admits
no one believes him, but it's hardly impossible.
The brown pelicans will be here perhaps a couple
more months before heading back south to try again at balancing
chicks and food.
If history is any indicator, it's unlikely they'll get it
returned to West Coast after desert detour
H. Rotstein' Associated Press
Sept. 11, 2004 12:00 AM
TUCSON - The Arizona- Sonora Desert Museum, noted for its
collections of desert species ranging from bighorn sheep
to Mexican wolves to ocelots, has been playing host to some
seafaring critters this summer: brown pelicans.
Twenty-six of the birds that favor Pacific Ocean waters
got marooned in the desert during the monsoon season, which
brings heavy winds and wetter weather to the Southwest.
The museum fed and cared for the birds and worked with Sea
World in San Diego to get them back to the Pacific Coast.
All were deemed healthy and set free.
"They came to us in really good condition from the
Arizona-Sonora Museum," said Stephanie Costelow, Sea
World's assistant curator for birds.
The high-flying juveniles got lost while fishing off the
Mexican coast and carried a couple of hundred miles into
Arizona by monsoon winds.
Most of those found and caught were injured or debilitated,
said Shawnee Riplog- Peterson, the Arizona-Sonora Desert
Museum's curator for mammalogy and ornithology.
They likely were badly confused, too.
"It's been a banner year this year for pelicans"
for the museum, she said, with a record 26 found and turned
over to it by individuals or the Arizona Game and Fish Department.
The previous high was 18 strays in 2002.
But the phenomenon of directionally challenged birds isn't
new. Riplog-Peterson said pelicans apparently have been
blown off course into Arizona for hundreds of years. She
said depictions of them can be found in some American Indian
petroglyphs dating back at least 800 years.
"We ascertain these are youngsters," she said.
"They haven't honed their navigational skills completely."
Brown pelicans have been recorded flying at up to 3,000
meters - nearly two miles - Riplog-Peterson said. That likely
makes them susceptible to being carried by large storms
into Arizona, she said.
Another factor in the high number of Arizona pelicans this
year was an abundance of new births, making it likely that
some birds had to move further out of normal range to find
fish, she added.
Brown pelicans are the only true plunge-divers among seven
species of the bird, and some were victims of a mirage effect,
mistaking shimmering highway asphalt for water. As a result,
some birds were found with broken wings or legs, and four
pelicans had to be euthanized, Riplog-Peterson said.
The museum provided veterinary and nutritional care, checked
electrolyte levels and kept the birds in a large enclosure
with two stock tanks for bathing and fishing and a sprinkler
to mimic rain at sea.
The 8- to 10-pound birds, with 7-foot wingspans, each ate
up to 2 1/2 pounds of fish daily.
All but two birds were trucked to Yuma, where museum workers
met counterparts from Sea World. The other two were air-shipped
to San Diego.
At Sea World, they were kept from three to seven days in
a large flight cage with a pool to make sure they flew correctly
and could fish, then released over a good supply of fish
amid adult pelicans to mimic, Costelow said.
to warn off paddlers, pilots from pelican areas
Updated: Sep 10 2004 10:35 AM CDT
FORT SMITH, N.W.T. - A group in Fort Smith plans to take
steps to protect the pelicans that summer in the rapids
near the community.
The breeding success rate was better this year,
but pelican lovers don't think the birds are out of the
rough water yet.Observers are still worried about the large
white birds despite an increase in the chick survival this
season. Last year less than one per cent lived to migrate.
The nesting islands are in the midst of these turbulent
rapids about 10 kilometres from Fort Smith on the Slave
Despite their location, biologists say the pelicans are
Adults will abandon their chicks if there's intrusion by
humans, predators, boats or low flying aircraft.
Now the Pelican Advisory Circle, a group made up of Alberta
and Northwest Territories' biologists, the airport manager,
paddlers and pilots, plan to take steps to protect the birds.
Jack Van Pelt, who's been keeping his eye on the pelicans
for 30 years, believes awareness is critical.
"There are making signage... big signs that can be
seen also from the air and the water as one comes upstream
and downstream from the islands," says Van Pelt, who's
advising the group. "They're better than maps!. No
kayaker or pilot coming in for a landing is going to look
at a map and say what's cooking here?"
According to Van Pelt signs will be erected in the winter
on the islands and at the trailhead.
They'll warn travellers to avoid the nesting sights.
A public meeting is planned for later this fall.
Copyright © 2004 Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
- All Rights Reserved
Desert Museum pelican rescues set record
ARIZONA DAILY STAR, Published: 09.10.2004
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum has rescued 26 California
brown pelicans this summer, exceeding the previous record
of 18 saved in 2002.
The birds usually arrive in the Tucson area because high
monsoon winds throw the young pelicans off course. The birds
are cared for here before being taken to Sea World in San
Diego to be released into the wild, according to a museum
"It has been very rewarding to save so many birds,
but it has basically blown our budget in this area for the
next five years," said Mary Powell-McConnell, who is
responsible for records and quarantine in the museum's Mammalogy
and Ornithology Department. "We have been serving
up to 36 pounds of smelt a day to feed them."
California brown pelicans live along the Pacific Coast.
They have been listed as an endangered species since 1985.
(sic: since 1970)
Contributions to help the museum cover the cost
of caring for the birds can be made at www.desertmuseum.org
online. Click on the box "Support Our Animal Care Fund"
at the top of the page.
Outdoors: Birds of a feather
By:Todd Burras, Outdoors Writer September 03, 2004
Pelican migration a good reason to flock to Saylorville
SAYLORVILLE LAKE - Whether you're a professional ornithologist
like Jim Dinsmore, or an amateur backyard birder like myself,
make it a point to visit Jester Park this weekend or the
next. You won't be disappointed if you do.
This time of year Saylorville
Lake is a staging area for thousands of waterfowl and shore
birds heading south on their annual migrations from northern
breeding grounds. While large numbers of ducks, geese, gulls
and other birds can be seen resting their wings and filling
their bellies at Saylorville, it's the rare opportunity
to see American white pelicans spilling from the heavens
that is of particular interest to Dinsmore.
"The pelicans are
certainly a spectacle because of the vast number of birds
that can be seen there," said Dinsmore, a retired professor
of animal ecology from Iowa State University. "When
you see these small white dots dropping out of a blue sky
and realize, 'Oh, these are pelicans,' it's a pretty spectacular
earlier this week, Dinsmore estimated some 14,000 pelicans
could be seen on the mud islands northeast of the Jester
Park lodge. The following day he guessed there were roughly
While extensive research
doesn't exist to identify exactly where the pelicans are
migrating from, Dinsmore says the majority likely are coming
from North Dakota and Manitoba, Canada. All are on their
way to the Gulf Coast, from Texas to Florida.
"I don't know for
sure how long individual birds are staying," Dinsmore
says. "Most are going to move through pretty fast.
If they can find enough fish, I wouldn't be surprised if
they're spending at least a day before moving on."
The pelicans feast on
minnows, gizzard shad and other small fish. They aren't,
however, a threat to game fish coveted by anglers.
"They don't eat
walleyes or bass," Dinsmore said. "They're not
fast enough to catch them."
American white pelicans
occasionally stop at Ada Hayden Heritage Park in Ames, but
Dinsmore said the former quarry isn't the best location
to see large numbers of them.
"We've seen them
there at times, but the water is so deep that there isn't
much vegetation for them," he said. "They might
land and spend a couple hours there, but then they'll probably
be on their way and not spend the night there."
Besides seeing pelicans,
Dinsmore says now is also a good time at Saylorville to
spot double-crested cormorants, ring-billed gulls, sandpipers,
Caspian terns and great egrets.
"I've seen four
ospreys, and the other day I saw a merlin," Dinsmore
said. "I'm expecting we'll also be seeing peregrine
falcons starting to show up any time soon."
Blue-winged teal, a
favorite early target of waterfowl hunters, already are
migrating through central Iowa, too.
"I saw a flock
of about 500 of them the other day," Dinsmore said.
The pelicans, meanwhile,
have become such an attraction that the Polk County Conservation
Board hosts an annual Pelican Festival. Last year, 4,500
people attended. This year's event will be Sunday, Sept.
12, at Jester Park. Besides youth activities, telescope
viewing areas, guest speakers and a live birds of prey exhibit,
several programs celebrating the adventures of Lewis and
Clark are planned.
"Most people in
Iowa don't even realize we have pelicans," Dinsmore
said. "This is a good chance to see them."
Todd Burras is an outdoors
writer and copy editor for The Tribune. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org©Ames
refuge takes hit
KEVIN LOLLAR, email@example.com
Published by news-press.com on August 25, 2004
While Hurricane Charley was tearing the roofs off area homes,
it was also tearing the roofs off the J.N. “Ding”
Darling National Wildlife Refuge’s mangrove forests,
leaving hundreds of birds looking for temporary roosting
About 70 percent of the refuge’s mangroves were damaged
— mostly red mangroves, but also white and black mangroves
and buttonwood, refuge ranger Kevin Godsea said.
“Some of the canopy was completely taken out,”
Godsea said. “Most of the root structures are intact.
“The rookery islands really took a hit: About all
of them snapped off somewhere up the trunk. Another area
hit hard was the Shell Mound Trail area. There used to be
a nice wall of green and a nice canopy. Now, there’s
a lot of sun and no green.”
Of great interest to refuge officials are Patricio and Chino
islands in Pine Island Sound, which are important
rookery islands for brown pelicans, double crested
cormorants, great blue herons, snowy egrets and great egrets.
Because those islands no longer have canopy — the
layer of branches and leaves at the top of a forest —
the birds must look elsewhere for a place to roost.
“We don’t know where they dispersed to, but
we know they will be dispersed,” Godsea said. “They
will find areas where there are still relatively undamaged
mangrove trees up.
“There is precedent for birds leaving a nest site
and coming back in a few years once it is regrown. When
the Pelican Island refuge was hit by a hurricane in the
1920s, there was no vegetation left, so the birds moved
to another island, then came back when Pelican Island recovered.”
condemns Danube ship canal
has voiced its "deep regret" that Ukraine opened
a ship canal in the Danube delta nature reserve, defying
EU calls to halt construction until an environmental assessment
has been carried out.
The European Commission has repeatedly called on Kiev to
stop work on the 3 km Bystroye canal, which links the River
Danube and the Black Sea, over fears that it could harm
the delicate ecosystem.
The issue was also raised at the EU-Ukraine summit in July
where Brussels urged Ukrainian authorities not to go ahead
with the project until an environmental impact assessment
had been carried out.
"The European Commission deeply regrets the reported
opening to navigation of the initial part of the Bystroye
canal," Brussels said in a statement on Wednesday.
"The canal route goes through a specially protected
UNESCO World Heritage area in the Danube Delta which is
also subject to the International Ramsar Convention on the
protection of wetlands."
"The Commission...would welcome receiving reassurances
from the Ukrainian government confirming its intention not
to proceed further with this project pending preparation
of a proper Environmental Impact Assessment to international
The Danube delta is a wetland with a fragile ecosystem,
home to around 90 species of fish and 300 bird varieties
including 70 percent of the world's white pelicans
and 50 per cent of pygmy cormorants, according to the Worldwide
Fund for Nature.
Neighbouring Romania has also expressed its concern over
the project which straddles its boarder, and on Tuesday
hundreds of Romanians marched through Bucharest demanding
a halt to construction work.
The first section of the canal is due to opened on Thursday
at a special ceremony attended by Ukranian president Leonid
Kuchma, AFP reports.
Published: Wed, 25 Aug 2004 18:10:10 GMT+02
Author: Henrietta Billings
urge Ukraine to halt Danube canal plan
Aug 2004 15:51:07 GMT
Source: Reuters; By Antonia Oprita
BUCHAREST, Aug 24 (Reuters) - More than 500 protesters,
some carrying models of pelicans or sturgeon, marched in
Romania's capital on Tuesday demanding a stop to Ukraine's
plan to build a controversial canal they say will harm the
The European Union has repeatedly asked Ukraine to halt
work at the Bastroe canal, which would provide a waterway
between the Black Sea and the Ukrainian section of the Danube
river delta, due to fears it could harm the unique ecosystem,
a UNESCO world heritage site since 1991.
Marchers at the demonstration, organised by around 140 non-profit
organisations and trade unions, submitted an open letter
at the Ukrainian embassy in Bucharest saying the project
may endanger more than 280 bird species living in the delta.
"If Ukraine goes ahead with its plan ... the delta
will become a fetid swamp," said a statement by one
of the unions.
Romania has repeatedly complained the canal, situated in
the north-east of the delta, would cause water levels to
Ukrainian officials have said the plan, which consists of
enlarging and deepening the Bastroe canal to allow ships
to travel, would provide better access to the Black Sea
and would help create jobs in an impoverished region in
Worldwide Fund for Nature has said the canal threatens
the delta's most important wetland, where 70 percent of
the world's white pelicans and 50 percent of pygmy
Environment protection experts say work on the Bastroe canal
has already started to cause damages to the environment.
Romanian authorities say the project is due to be finished
in 2008 and that work has now started on enlarging the beginning
of the Bastroe canal, at the border with Romania, and the
end, where it flows into the Black Sea on Ukraine's territory.
"They haven't started digging in the middle, it isn't
too late to stop them," one official said.
campaign to stop the Ukrainian canal: http://passport.panda.org/campaigns/action_ecard.cfm?uNC=22704540&uCampaignId=601&uActionId=1282
also a feature article in Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty,
with a photo of the delta
Analysis: Serpents Island, Bystraya Canal, And Ukrainian-Romanian
Danube River Delta is home to over 300 species of birds
and 90 secies of fish.Relations between Bucharest and Kyiv
have been strained for some time over their inability to
reach an agreement concerning the delimitation of the continental
shelf around Serpents Island (Zmiyinyy Ostrov) in the Black
Sea, and that dispute is likely to end before the International
Court of Justice in The Hague. Relations have deteriorated
further recently over Ukraine's construction of a canal
that will facilitate access to and from the Black Sea via
the Danube River, but at the same time, Romania claims,
would destroy the Danube Delta's unique ecosystem. Inauguration
of the Bystraya Canal is scheduled for 24 August -- Ukraine's
Independence Day -- according to Romanian media reports.
At stake are two elements of strategic importance: the discovery
of oil and gas reserves surrounding the island and the location
of the planned canal, which would facilitate control of
the Danube's mouth by a non-NATO member/
Warns of Environmental Harm from Ukraine Canal Project
24 Aug 2004, 00:30 UTC
United States renewed its concern Monday about a controversial
Ukrainian canal project in the Danube delta. Environmentalists
say the canal will cause irreparable harm to important bird
The United States is joining the European Union and major
environmental groups in expressing concern about the project
by Ukraine, which is digging a three-kilometer long, deep
water channel through an internationally-protected part of
the Danube delta.
The dredging project began in May despite international protests
including an earlier critical statement by the United States.
Opponents of the canal say it will destroy the nesting areas
of thousands of endangered birds, in an area described as
the most important breeding ground for birds in all of Europe.
At a news briefing, State Department Deputy Spokesman Adam
Ereli said construction on the canal has continued "unabated"
despite the U.S. appeal in May that Ukraine conduct an impact
assessment of the project and consider an alternate route
that would minimize the destructive impact on the environment.
He said the European Union and the governments of Germany
and Ukraine's neighbor Romania as well as key advocacy groups
including the World Wildlife Fund and the World Conservation
Union all have registered complaints, but that the Kiev government
has been unresponsive.
"We remain deeply concerned about the environmental impact
of this construction project, and by the lack of action by
the government of Ukraine to be responsive to its treaty obligations,
and to the positions stated by other countries and the international
organizations," he said. "And we urge it, continue
to urge it, to insure that this very important wetland area
and ecologically-sensitive resource be fully protected and
Ukraine has said the canal is merely the reopening of a project
begun during the Soviet era and would provide better access
to the Black Sea for an economically poor region of the country.
Kiev officials say there are three deep waterways in the Danube
delta, but none in Ukraine and that the country has a right
to develop its part of the area.
The affected section of the delta is nominally protected under
the 1971 Ramsar international convention on wetlands, a bilateral
Ukraine-Romania agreement, and by its designation as a UNESCO
"Man and the Biosphere" site.
Nature groups say it is home to 280 bird species including
critical populations of pelicans and cormorants, and that
the Ukraine project risks bringing oil pollution to the area.
Forks Herald -Posted
on Sat, Aug. 21, 2004
EDITORIAL: Biologists deserve accolades
OUR VIEW: North Dakota biologists are on the correct track
in finding answers about the AWOL Chase Lake pelicans.
Kudos to the U. S. Geological Survey's Northern Prairie
Wildlife Research Center in Jamestown, N.D.
The research center is looking for answers to the disappearing
and dying pelicans.
Biologists are requesting funding for tracking devices to
try to solve the mystery of why thousands of pelicans have
left or are leaving North Dakota.
These birds are an important part of our state's bird population.
We recommend that $70,000 for researching the mystery be
approved and expedited.
Funding will allow the bird sleuths to purchase backpacklike
satellite tracking devices. The pelicans, like children
heading off to school with backpacks full of books and lunch,
will have packs filled with tracking devices that will signal
biologists their location. More important, biologists say,
is the devices could tell them why the birds left Chase
Chase Lake, a pothole lake in central North Dakota, is the
largest nesting site for white pelicans in North America.
It is a 4,385-acre refuge where these birds nested, laid
eggs and then abandoned their chicks and eggs last spring.
North Dakota is a state where bird watching is a growing
tourist industry. Nesting white pelicans 28,000 of them
leaving our state is a depopulation phenomena that we can't
afford. Will other birds follow the abandonment behavior?
Where have the pelicans gone? Will they return next year
in the same numbers? But the most important question is:
Why did they abandon their chicks to die, then leave the
It is important that biologists from wildlife refuges in
Jamestown and the research center near Medina, N.D. are
responding quickly and working full throttle on the mystery.
Dorreen Yellow Bird for the Herald
still baffled by pelicans' disappearance
By JAMES MacPHERSON Associated Press Writer
The Associated Press - Wednesday, August 18, 2004
Federal biologists want to attach backpack-like satellite
tracking devices on pelicans as they try to solve the mystery
of why the big birds left a North Dakota refuge.
That's if the pelicans return next year to the Chase Lake
National Wildlife Refuge near Medina.
Biologists are seeking $70,000 in federal money to purchase
the electronic tracking equipment that would be harnessed
to pelicans, said Dennis Jorde, with the U.S. Geological
Survey's Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center in Jamestown.
"The satellite transmitters will hopefully address
why these pelicans abandoned their breeding grounds this
year," Jorde said.
Nearly 28,000 birds showed up to nest at the refuge in early
April but took off in late May and early June, abandoning
their chicks and eggs. The 4,385-acre refuge in central
North Dakota had been the site of the largest nesting colony
of white pelicans in North America.
The exodus has wildlife experts stumped.
"There aren't any answers, so far," said Ken Torkelson,
a spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Bismarck.
Torkelson said wildlife officials have checked air, water
and soil quality at the site. They have also checked for
diseases, food supply, predators and other possible factors.
The only thing biologists know for sure is that the pelicans
are still gone, Torkelson said.
Pam Pietz, a biologist at the research center in Jamestown,
said wildlife officials hope to attach 15 of the electronic
tracking devices on the birds next year.
Biologists captured four adult pelicans this year at the
refuge and attached the signaling devices to track them.
The birds took separate paths when they left Chase Lake
on June 2, flying throughout North Dakota, Minnesota, South
Dakota and Montana.
Pietz said finding out where the thousands of pelicans have
gone is only part of the equation.
"For me, it's not where they are, but why they left,"
Torkelson said wildlife officials believe the pelicans will
return next year, like they have for at least a century.
"They may come back in fewer numbers, or in more numbers
or exactly the same numbers. But we're assuming that they're
going to be back," Torkelson said.
equine case of West Nile reported
By ALLISON FARRELL - IR State Bureau - 08/18/04
HELENA — The first equine case of West Nile virus
of the year in Montana was confirmed in a horse in Yellowstone
County, state veterinarian Tom Linfield said late Tuesday.
While the horse marks the first equine case of the virus,
state health officials discovered the first case of West
Nile virus this year on Aug. 4 when six pelicans
nesting at a waterfowl refuge in northeastern Montana tested
positive for the virus. Since then, another seven pelicans
at the refuge and a blackbird in Richland have
tested positive for the virus. Mosquitoes have tested positive
from samples taken in Custer County.
State officials say the virus may be here to stay. The disease
surfaced in eastern Montana in August 2002.
‘‘We may always see a few cases of it because
it's in the bird population,'' said Karen Cooper, spokeswoman
for the Department of Livestock.
first case of West Nile in Montana this year
HELENA (AP) -- Six pelicans have tested positive for West
Nile virus, the first confirmed cases of the disease in
the state this year, Montana health officials said Wednesday.
The birds, which were nesting at a waterfowl refuge in northeastern
Montana, were found dead July 19. Employees of the Medicine
Lake National Wildlife Refuge sent them for testing, the
Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services said.
All six birds were born this summer, said Kathryn Converse,
a federal wildlife disease specialist. She said 2,000 pelicans
at the refuge were diagnosed with West Nile last year.
The virus is carried primarily by birds but can be transmitted
to humans by mosquitoes. The first two documented human
cases of the virus in Montana occurred in 2002, in Yellowstone
and Rosebud Counties. Health officials reported 228 human
cases last year, including four deaths.
State health officials expect the disease to hit western
Montana for the first time this summer. All human cases
thus far have been east of the Continental Divide.
Cause of pelican die-off deemed natural
Spate of juvenile deaths follows breeding success
By Terry Rodgers, UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
August 1, 2004
Wildlife rescuers knew something bizarre
was happening earlier this summer when weak and malnourished
pelicans began to appear not only along the beaches in San
Diego but as far inland as Arizona.
The stories were heartbreaking.Young pelicans desperate
for nourishment were diving to their deaths in the desert
after mistaking heat-shimmering pavement for water.Between
mid-June and mid-July, hundreds of emaciated pelicans died
in Northern Baja California, Mexico, and Southern California.
Now that the death rate has abated, seabird experts at the
University of California Davis say the pelican die-off appears
to be completely natural and not the fault of pollution
or human interference. "They are a victim of their
own success," said UC Davis researcher Frank Gress.
What happened to juvenile California brown pelicans this
summer is still unusual. "I'd say this is a once-in-a-35-year
event," said Gress, who has been studying pelicans
about that long. As a young scientist, Gress was among the
researchers who unlocked the mystery of how the pesticide
DDT had infiltrated the marine food chain. The poison, which
accumulated in small fish that are the birds' prey, caused
the pelicans to produce eggs with shells that were too thin.
Pushed to the edge of extinction, the birds were placed
on the Endangered Species List in 1973.
That environmental calamity a generation ago remains embedded
in Southern California's collective memory, making it easy
to understand why unexplained pelican deaths in 2004 would
be cause for alarm. "Pelicans are such lovely birds
to watch," said Christina Johnson of California SeaGrant,
a federal agency that promotes marine research. "It's
really easy to love them."
In San Diego, SeaWorld's wildlife recovery center has taken
in 180 juvenile pelicans since mid-June. Nearly half have
The situation has been equally grim in Baja California,
where scores of young pelicans have turned up in villages
and cities, begging for handouts from humans. "There
isn't a lot that can be done," said pelican researcher
Dan Anderson of UC Davis. "It's better not to feed
the birds. It just creates more problems." Months ago,
Gress and Anderson were among an elite group of field biologists
able to foresee how nature would deal with this year's bumper
crop of young pelicans.
"This has happened before in the past, all in exceptional
– not problematic – years of production,"
While conducting field studies at the Channel Islands, researchers
noticed the birds were starting to breed in November, a
month earlier than had ever been observed. With anchovies
and other prey fish in abundance, pelican parents were having
astounding success at hatching and fledging their young.
The result was the largest breeding effort on record –
an estimated 6,000 pairs – at Anacapa Island, the
northernmost nesting site for brown pelicans. "Nests
were built all over the island, including places where nesting
had not occurred before," Gress said.
In the Gulf of California, where 70 percent of brown pelicans
breed, and along Baja California's Pacific coast, the story
was much the same. At Isla Todos Santos off Ensenada, pelicans
successfully nested for the first time since 1923. By late
spring, the bulk of the species' 15,000 breeding pairs were
having extraordinary success. The subsequent spate of deaths
among juvenile pelicans was essentially inevitable, the
UC Davis researchers said.
In any given year, 50 percent to 75 percent of all young
pelicans die in their first year. One reason for the high
mortality rate is because their method of feeding, called
plunge diving, is so difficult to master. Young pelicans
are fed by their parents during their first 13 weeks of
life. After that, they are on their own.
Typically, pelicans require two to three years to become
efficient at plunge diving for small fish near the surface.
Their diet is 90 percent northern anchovy.For newly fledged
pelicans still learning to feed, even a brief scarcity in
food supply can have dramatic effects.
The problem this summer was not with the supply but the
availability of anchovies and sardines. Seine-net surveys
conducted this spring of sardine and anchovy eggs floating
near the surface off Southern California showed normal abundance,
said Kevin Hill, a fisheries biologist with the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in La Jolla. "All
indications are that these (bait) fish are still around,
but they may be deeper and not as easy to catch," Hill
Commercial bait fish operators in San Pedro and San Diego
confirmed they had problems finding sardines and anchovies
earlier this summer. "For a while there, the fish were
out in deeper water and harder to catch," said Buck
Everingham of Everingham Bros., one of three commercial
bait suppliers in San Diego. "They're hard to catch
once they're below 10 fathoms, or 60 feet."
Everingham said he also noticed an increase in juvenile
pelicans begging for food at his floating bait pens in San
Diego Bay and Mission Bay. "The first year pelicans
will hang out and dive – learning how to fish –
next to our bait barge," he said.
Last week, commercial seiners were having no problems catching
bait fish, mostly sardines, Everingham said.
Some scientists speculate that higher surface ocean temperatures
may have caused anchovies to seek refuge in colder, deeper
Forty years ago, the deaths of California brown pelicans
signaled an ecosystem knocked out of balance by mankind's
ignorance. This year, the numerous pelican deaths are a
lesson of nature achieving equilibrium.
"What we're seeing is perfectly natural," Gress
said. "We're having normal mortality rates. But what's
freaking people out is that, because there are so many more
birds, it's a lot more noticeable."
Terry Rodgers: (619) 542-4566; firstname.lastname@example.org
for RECENT 2006, pelican news
for November-December, 2005 Pelican News (with links at the
bottom of the page to the rest of 2005.)
here for December, 2004, pelican news (with
links at the bottom of the page to the rest of 2004.)
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