December, 2004 news about pelicans from around the world
| Arco "Bird Island" |
Cape Cod 1, 2
| India 1, 2 |
Romania | Bruce
of discovery for Audubon birdwatchers
By Daniel Moulthrop, IJ correspondent
Monday, December 27, 2004 -
Counts take place this year between Dec. 14, 2004, and Jan.
5, 2005. Yesterday, as they have for the past 30 years,
about 100 volunteers in 22 groups spread out across Marin,
hunkering down on hill tops and ambling across meadows to
count every bird they could see, from turkey vultures to
wild turkeys, and every warbler in between.
Last year, volunteers in southern Marin counted around 40,000
birds belonging to some 180 different species. Audubon organizer
Bruce Bajema said yesterday's storm might have had an effect
on their count, making birds more difficult to find.
"The birds were hunkered down," Bajema said. "I
guess they had more sense than we did."
Comstock paused from his laundry list and looked up.
He had barely taken a breath before he had numbered the
flock of seagulls flying southward overhead.
"That's a hundred Western Gulls," Comstock said.
By 9:30, Weintraub had recorded more than 1,000 western
and other species of gulls, several hundred brown
pelicans and two northern fulmar, which ordinarily
don't come within sight of the shore.
This winter tradition began over a century ago, when a group
of conservationists organized a bird count as an alternative
to the traditional Christmas Day "side hunt,"
in which groups of hunters competed to see who could shoot
the most birds and small animals.
After that first year, the Audubon Society began to organize
the count and compile the data every year. These 105 years
of data, collected now by more than 50,000 volunteers in
North and South America, the Caribbean, and the Pacific
Islands every year, help scientists and the government to
track bird population trends, as well as the trajectories
of avian-borne illnesses. This year, the Audubon Society
will use data from the 2004 Christmas Bird Count in a comprehensive
report detailing trends over that last 39 years.
"You become aware of everything. Every noise, every
flutter, every bit of movement might be a bird. When you've
got a lot of worries and stress, you can come out here and
look at the birds, and really, when you can come out here
and do this, life can't be so bad," she said. "It's
also a very interesting community, and it beats the conversation
at a cocktail party."
Marin Independent Journal <http://www.marinij.com/Stories/0,1413,234~24407~2620498,00.html#>
Long Road Back From a Near-Fatal
Accident Leads to Dream Fulfilled
A year and a half after Bruce Toloski was gravely
injured assisting a motorist, the wildlife agent is the
proud father of healthy twins.
By Nancy Wride and David Pierson, LA Times Staff Writers
December 26, 2004
Nobody believed good Samaritan Bruce Toloski could survive,
much less thrive.
A year and a half ago, the off-duty federal wildlife agent
was helping a man in an overturned Jeep when another car
grazed it, hurling a bumper into Toloski's head. He was
comatose for six weeks, and doctors had to restore the missing
right side of his skull.
But on Christmas Day at the family's Torrance home, Toloski
said he was grateful for more than his own life. After a
stunning recovery, he fulfilled a longtime dream of having
children when his wife, Lisa, gave birth to healthy twins
"They're a Christmas gift
"It's so peaceful to hold them. They make me and Lisa
feel so great," he said.
Toloski was driving home one April night in 2003 after spending
the day investigating the maiming of more than a dozen endangered
California brown pelicans around San Pedro and Cabrillo
On the Long Beach Freeway, he spotted a man who had rolled
his Jeep. He pulled over to see if the driver was injured.
Moments later, another car hit the Jeep's fender, which
struck Toloski's head.
"After the accident, a CHP officer told Bruce's captain
that he had two hours to live," said Lisa Toloski,
who organized a prayer vigil the next day. She said it was
her faith in God that helped her through the ordeal.
When Toloski was released from Long Beach Memorial Hospital
on July 30 of last year, he still faced months of physical
and vocational therapy. In August, the Federal Law Enforcement
Officers Assn. honored Toloski with its annual Heroism Award.
He accepted it with what friends, family and co-workers
said was typical humility.
He spent many months relearning to eat, talk and walk. Seizures
dogged him as recently as this summer.
It was difficult for Toloski to not work because
of his commitment to the pelican case, which was assigned
to another agent. The birds were found with snapped wings,
which Toloski and forensic examinations concluded were highly
unlikely to have occurred naturally or accidentally (by
getting tangled in fishing line, for example). The team
of bird rescuers, mostly volunteers, did not forget Toloski's
Last summer, Toloski's church paid for the rehabilitation
of two pelicans that were named in his honor. A third bird,
also named after Toloski, was funded by the volunteers.
With the recovery and the births, the Toloskis said they
have come to believe that good fortune is never out of reach,
no matter the odds against it.
"There's a lot of miracles in this house," Lisa
said. "Bruce and the two babies."
Copyright 2004 Los Angeles Times
return to top
News in India with checkdam construction
who’s paying a flying visit to wetlands in State?
Gandhinagar, December 18:
Bird watchers will have a lot to watch this winter. For
the first time, over 7,000 demoiselle cranes and other migratory
birds have descended on Kaj and Karli wetlands in coastal
Kodinar and Porbandar for nesting.
Other birds sighted at these water bodies — formed
after construction of earthen checkdams — include
ospreys flying in from Europe and pelicans.
The checkdams were built for scarcity relief last
summer to prevent salinity ingress and conserve fresh water.
The Kaj wetland near coastal Kodinar in Amreli district
has been formed by the 9-km-long reclamation bund (checkdam)
while the Karli waterbody near Porbandar has been created
due to a 14-km-long bund.These shallow wetlands provide
an excellent habitat for thousands of migratory birds, some
of them rare species.
Deputy Conservator of Forest (DCF) Uday Vora, who visited
the wetlands on Friday said the phenomenon was “amazing
“The musical high-pitched trumpet call of demoiselle
cranes in varying notes can be aptly likened to the distant
roaring of the sea,” he said.
Vora said the demoiselle cranes arrive from South Europe,
North Africa and North-Central Asia to winter mainly in
the Saurashtra region. A census conducted by the International
Waterfowl and Wetland Research Bureau (IWRB) indicated that
53 per cent of these migratory cranes in India are found
in the State. The roost in Saurashtra for about 170 days.
The Velavadar National Park in Bhavnagar district
too has attracted a large number of migratory birds this
year like pelicans, flamingoes, ducks,
waders, coots, white and painted storks. The park provides
one of the world’s best roosting sites to thousands
of harriers which arrive from Central Europe, he said.
The number of harriers visiting the park has increased over
the decade. A recent study by the Bombay Natural History
Society (BNHS) showed that their numbers have swelled from
1,500 in 1991 to over 3,000 in 2004. Four harrier species
— Montagu’s, pallid, marsh And Hen — can
be found in the area. The visiting harriers are a blessing
in disguise for farmers in the region as they feast mainly
on locusts, rodents and small reptiles saving crop from
According to another study, “about 60 per cent of
harrier pellets contained locusts remains, and the migratory
birds consume over 1.5 million locusts each winter”.
© 2004: Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd. All
rights reserved throughout the world.
pelican island saved
The island nesting place of Europe’s third largest
colony of Dalmatian Pelicans has been saved. Ceaplace Island
on Romania’s Lake Sinoe, in the Danube Delta Biosphere
Reserve, was being rapidly eroded by waves and ice, losing
three-quarters of its area in the last two years.
The total European breeding population of Dalmatian Pelican
Pelecanus crispus is fewer than 1,500 pairs and the species
has recently been upgraded to Vulnerable following declines
across most of its range. 84 pairs bred on the island in
2004, but a further 70-80 nests were swept away.
Now, thanks to funding from the Disney
Wildlife Conservation Fund (DWCF), the RSPB and private
donations, a wooden wall has been built which will enable
the island to recover.
on the Cape Cod white pelicans
The pelicans, briefly
Friday, December 17, 2004
Dear Bird Folks,
I heard about a flock of
white pelicans that was seen in Provincetown last week.
I would like to see them. Are they still around? Why are
they so far out of their normal range? And will they be
in trouble when the weather gets colder?
You know, Scott,
One of the nice things about
watching birds is that every once in a while a rare bird
arrives that is so distinct that all of us can actually
identify it. All too often the rare birds that mistakenly
visit here look so similar to the native birds that you
need a police lab to identify them. Only the eggheads have
the skills needed to identify most of our rare visitors
while the rest of us must take their word for it. But then,
just when we think watching birds is too difficult, along
comes a bird that is so unmistakable that even the guy working
in the pit at Jiffy Lube can identify it. The American white
pelican is just that kind of bird. It is massive, majestic
and unique in every way. It is brilliant white, with a huge
bill and a wingspan of more than 9 feet.
The white pelican is indeed rare here in the East, but every
few years they make a cameo appearance. It seems to me that
four or five years ago a small flock visited the Mid-Cape
area, or at least I think they did. Suddenly I'm not sure
if I dreamt it or not. I'll have to look it up. Most white
pelicans breed in the western-central section of North America
and then head to the southern U.S. coast for the winter.
For whatever reason, a few of the fall migrants occasionally
take the long route south and that's when we get to see
White pelicans are considerably different from those prehistoric
looking brown pelicans that hang around the boats in Florida.
White pelicans are very elegant looking birds, almost swanlike.
They ride very high and stately in the water and soar gracefully
in flight. White pelicans don't make those crazy plunge
dives like their brown cousins. They hunt by forming a synchronized
semicircle. With their bills lowered into the water they
"herd" the fish toward the shores. Once the fish
are in the shallow water the scooping begins. If there is
only a pair of pelicans, the two birds will face off and
herd the fish toward each other. And if a pelican is all
alone, it will often hire a border collie to help herd the
fish toward its mouth.
White pelicans love each other's company. They
nest together, they roost together, they feed together and
apparently, since you saw five of them in Provincetown,
they get lost together. ...
The good news for the birds is that they are strong
fliers and I'm sure that it will be only a matter of time
before they safely work their way south. ...
Information for this column is provided by the staff at
Bird Watcher's General Store in Orleans. Original artwork
is supplied by Cathy Clark. If you have a question for the
bird experts, please e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org
or call 508-255-6974.
unusual white pelicans sitings in the northeast:
Cod Wildlife Sightings
Friday, December 17, 2004
The following sightings were reported to Mass Audubon between
Dec. 9 and Dec. 14. If you have questions about these sightings,
or want to report a sighting, call the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife
Sanctuary at 508-349-2615 or send e-mail to email@example.com.
An American white pelican
was seen for several hours at Nauset Marsh in Eastham on
Dec. 12 and then later spotted flying over Route 6 from
Hemenway Landing. On Dec. 13 a white pelican was spotted
at the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary near Goose Pond.
During the week there were also sightings of American white
pelicans in several western suburbs of Boston.
in New Jersey
Friday, December 17, 2004
was an interesting sighting along the Cranbury Brook Eagle
Trail this week. No, it wasn't an eagle; it was four white
These very large birds are quite rare
in New Jersey, especially during the winter.
The pelicans made a brief appearance late
last week and had moved on by Sunday afternoon. Kathy Easton,
Cranbury's veteran birder, was lucky enough to learn about
the birds' visit and got a good look at them on Saturday.
* * *
"Bird Island" roosting site offer rejected
December 16, 2004
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) - An oil company proposal to
transform remnants of an old Ellwood Beach oil pier into
a "Bird Island" perch for California brown pelicans
has gotten a poor reception so far.
The Goleta City Council and Santa Barbara County Board of
Supervisors this week voted against the Arco plan.
The oil company wants to topple the concrete columns off
Ellwood, dump big rocks on top of the underwater debris,
and erect four concrete pilings, or poles, with platforms
for birds to roost.
The platforms would stand 40 feet above the water, twice
as high as the junk that's there now.
Backed by the state Department of Fish and Game
and state Lands Commission, Arco argued the new roosting
platforms would attract colonies of seabirds. Fish and Game
said the remnants of the pier, which have been dubbed "Bird
Island," are the only nighttime safe haven for the
endangered California brown pelican along a 75-mile stretch
Local governments, however, are more concerned about precedent
"This should not become a precedent-setting action,"
said Luis Perez, the county energy specialist who drafted
the county's letter opposing Arco's request. "It really
sends the wrong message.
"It becomes a reward for not doing your abandonment
properly at the end of the life of the project."
The state Lands Commission considers the proposal at its
meeting in Long Beach next month. The Goleta City Council
and county board are sending letters to the agency urging
a "no" vote.
The city of Goleta letter said the new platforms would "substantially
detract from the quality of recreational experience"
by visitors to Ellwood Mesa, a scenic blufftop property
that the community is trying to preserve.
In their letter, county supervisors reminded commissioners
that Santa Barbara County historically has required oil
companies to remove all structures offshore once a project
"If approved, Arco's current proposal would be an exception
to this long-held standard," the letter said.
Additionally, the city and county letters said, there is
no evidence that the pelicans are using the old pier at
night, and no way of knowing if any birds will return to
nest on the new platforms after the old pier is demolished.
with a photograph; the Santa Barbara News-Press requires
payment for non-subscribers to access their stories.
PS: on a 9-3 vote, the California Coastal Commission accepted
on February 16, Arco's plan to construct a "bird island"
off Goleta, CA, for roosting pelicans, cormorants and others
that increasingly have few safe coastal roosting sites.For
the plan in pdf, go to <http://www.coastal.ca.gov/meetings/mtg-mm5-2.html>
b. Application No. E-04-10 (ARCO, Santa Barbara
Co.) Application of Atlantic-Richfield Company to remove
remnant oil & gas pier structure, install four bird
roost platforms, and construct artificial reef along Santa
Barbara Channel, near Goleta, Santa Barbara County. (ALM-SF)
[APPROVED WITH CONDITIONS]
Hopefully, they were heading south....
Cape Cod Wildlife
Friday, December 10, 2004
The following sightings were reported to Mass Audubon between
Dec. 1 and Dec. 8. If you have questions about these sightings,
or want to report a sighting, call the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife
Sanctuary at 508-349-2615 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
A most unusual sighting
of five white pelicans flying over Provincetown Harbor was
reported Dec. 5. On that same date, 13 eastern
bluebirds near the police station in Harwich and an immature
bald eagle at Blackfish Creek in South Wellfleet were sighted.
The biggest day this year
for cold-stunned sea turtles occurred Dec. 5. Four Kemp's
ridleys and a hybrid were found on bay beaches between South
Eastham and North Truro. All were alive and sent to New
The Cape Cod Natural History
Hotline is sponsored by the Bird Watcher's General Store
in Orleans and Mass Audubon's Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.
You may reach the hotline directly by phone at 1-888-224-6444
or at the website www.massaudubon.org/wellfleetbay
whoops it up over crane milestone
Web Posted: 12/07/2004 12:00 AM CST
John MacCormackExpress-News Staff Writer
When the annual whooping crane count at the Aransas National
Wildlife Refuge passed 100 back in 1986, the celebration
was muted by the fatal heart attack of a refuge manager.
When the count broke 200 this year, there was no holding
"This was a banner year. It's like the stock market
hitting 15,000. I've been waiting for this for 18 years,"
said federal biologist Tom Stehn, who began doing the crane
fly-over counts in 1982.
The previous record of 194 was set last year, but
in a recent seven-hour low-altitude survey of some 350 square
miles of Coastal Bend marshland, Stehn counted 213 cranes
among the thousands of white egrets and pelicans.
Three more cranes later arrived.
The surveys are done each winter after most of the cranes
have completed their 2,500-mile migration from Wood Buffalo
National Park in Canada.
Driven nearly to the point of extinction by plume hunters
early last century, the crane population had dipped to an
all-time low by 1941. Only 15 were known to exist. Now,
more than 300 are found in three wild populations and about
150 more are in captivity.
"This is the highest number of endangered whooping
cranes wintering in Texas in the last 100 years," said
Stehn, 55, who said several more late arrivals might appear
in upcoming surveys.
"We still have one bird in Kansas. He's just slow in
his migration. And we had a report of a single bird up by
Amarillo," he said.
Two other cranes shot in Kansas last month never made it
to Texas. One died after its leg was amputated and the second
is recuperating from shotgun wounds at a federal facility
Killing a whooping crane carries a federal sentence
of up to a year in jail and a $100,000 fine.
Federal authorities are still investigating the incident.
Hunters who have admitted to firing at the birds said they
thought they were sandhill cranes, a smaller game species.
Biologist Stehn said another noteworthy aspect of this year's
migration was the appearance of two sets of new
crane twins among the 33 chicks to make the journey,
a first in his 22 years of doing surveys.
And although there is no guarantee the crane population
will make another sizeable jump next year, the long-term
trend is highly encouraging, Stehn said.
"It's been like a stock market situation, up and down
and up again. But really, overall, the situation is great,"
email@example.com Online at: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/metro/stories/MYSA120704.01B.big_whoop.cac3731e.html
12/10/2004 Whooping crane dies at Maryland recovery
Glenn Olsen, a veterinarian Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
in Laurel, Md, said the bird being treated in Maryland had
improved and had been able to eat on its own. But
then it developed a serious respiratory problem and died
The bird's carcass will be sent to the National Forensics
Laboratory in Ashland, Ore., for tests, Olsen said.
The crane had a broken wing and shotgun pellet wounds. Olsen
said wings and the respiratory system are closely linked,
and the infection was a secondary result of the gunshot
Central Kansas is a stopover point for whooping cranes on
annual migrations between nesting grounds in northern Canada
and wintering grounds in Texas. Only about 300 of the endangered
birds remain in the wild.
The hunters who shot the two cranes about three miles east
of the wildlife refuge told investigators they mistook them
for sandhill cranes, which are not protected.
Ken Kessler of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said no
charges have been filed. Agents were preparing a report
for federal prosecutors. Punishment for shooting whooping
cranes can range to up to a year in prison and a fine of
up to $100,000.
cities.expressindia.com, Thursday , December 02, 2004
SOME BAD NEWS
Eight pelicans were electrocuted by a live wire in Vaghasia
village of Wankaner taluka. Since then, a mass exodus has
been reported from the village which is visited by migratory
birds each winter. Locals said birds were flying away after
the eight pelicans were electrocuted near Vaghasia pond
They say after the incident, there has been a drastic decline
in the number of birds sighted in the area. According to
some, the number has come down to 100 from 1,000 in three
days after the birds died.
Range Forest Officer DN Raval said, “We have recovered
the dead birds. The department came to know about the incident
only on Wednesday.” One of the bodies has been eaten
at, maybe by some scavenger.
Raval added, “We are waiting for post-mortem report
although preliminary investigation says that the pelicans
were electrocuted after coming in
contact with the 1.32KV line near the pond.”
Forest officials were however, skeptical about linking the
exodus to the deaths. Officials said they have no idea how
many birds visited Vaghasia pond this season.
“We do not have official figures regarding the number
of migratory birds before and after the incident. We don’t
think the exodus, if any, was following the incident,”
Villagers said that there was a blast at a nearby transformer
followed by a power failure for a few hours.
Sambunath, the village’s former sarpanch said, “Many
birds have left the place after the incident. Earlier, the
pond used to be full of pelicans.”
Bird-watcher and wildlife photographer N Bhatti said, “Usually
there would be around 1,000 pelicans at the pond. It seems
the birds have been shocked. Now, less than 100 pelicans
can be seen here.”’
to South Puget Sound
OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — At least two brown pelicans, a
bird listed on state and federal endangered species lists,
have been seen around Budd Inlet since late June.
The large-beaked birds are often found on the Washington coast,
but are rarely spotted in south Puget Sound. It's possible
that Puget Sound could become home to more brown pelicans
in years to come, said Eric Cummins of the state Fish and
The pelicans appear to be roosting near Capitol Lake and foraging
in Budd Inlet during the day, state biologist Kelly McAllister
The federal government listed them as an endangered species
in 1970, and the state followed suit in 1980.
With the Environmental Protection Agency's ban on DDT in 1972,
there has been less chemical contamination in pelican eggs
and the brown pelican population has slowly increased.
for RECENT 2006, pelican news
here for November-December, 2005, Pelican News (with
links at the bottom of the page to the rest of 2005.)
for October-November, 2004 pelican news
for August-September, 2004 pelican news
here for July, 2004 news
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