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Pelican News is gathered from around the world from online newspapers, magazines and plain old word of mouth. There's an emphasis on those pelicans in the western US, the California Brown Pelican and the American White Pelican. The purpose is to inform and educate. The hope is also for support for the "Santa Barbara 12".

NB: For longer stories, this non-profit site, PelicanLife.org, will edit, with edits marked by :::snip:::, and will provide the links to the original sources and a paragraph or so. The sole purpose is educational, to contribute to pelican education and research. Citations and references should always be to those original sources. Most pieces require permission for copying for other than "fair use" purposes such as here; please contact the original sources for permission.

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Arizona 1, 2, 3 | A-S Desert-Museum | Cayucos | Chase Lake NWR | Domoic Acid | East Africa | IBRRC | N. Carolina | Olympic Peninsula 1, 2 | Pacific Wildlife Project | Starving Pelicans 1, 2, 3 | Ukraine-Danube | Wayward Pelicans

July, 2004, News about pelicans from around the world

The Arizona Daily Star
Published: 07.28.2004
Lost pelicans rehabbed at Desert Museum
Young birds lack skills to stay on course

By George L. Mountainlion

They're brown - not yellow like Big Bird on "Sesame Street" - but they definitely are big birds. They are California brown pelicans, and they have been dropping in on parking lots, highways, yards and swimming pools in Tucson this summer.

I said to myself: "This is a hot topic for my investigative reporting!" I rushed over to the museum's Mammalogy and Ornithology Department to interview the birds and Mary Powell-McConnell, the person in charge of their rehabilitation and care. I found the birds in a big outdoor enclosure complete with a misting area, a large tank of water, and human caretakers delivering an endless supply of fish to their guests.

"It's Pelican Palace!" I exclaimed as the feathered guests swung their necks, heads and huge pouches in agreement.


The Tucson drop-ins are from the Gulf of California, a long arm of the Pacific Ocean that lies almost surrounded by the Sonoran Desert of the Baja California peninsula and mainland Mexico.

"How'd they get so far from home?" I asked.

Mary explained that most of these are young birds that haven't yet learned all their navigational skills. Some were caught up in wind currents that blew them off course.


The wayward ones recuperating at the Desert Museum are indeed fortunate pelicans. When recovered from their adventure, dehydration and injuries, they will return to the ocean by way of a plane or truck to San Diego to stay in the pelican pond at Sea World, and then be returned to the Pacific. What stories they could tell to their grandchicks!

Fabulous facts

Brown pelicans

What is brown pelican life like at the Desert Museum?

When a rescued pelican arrives at the museum:

* It is checked for injuries, which are treated. There is a veterinarian on call.

* A caregiver opens the bird's beak and pokes fish in by hand. After three such feedings, the birds usually feed on their own. If the bird is in serious condition, it may be tube-fed.

* It is given an injection, which helps rid it of lice and leeches that pelicans carry.

While the pelicans are at the museum:

* They have constant access to water in a large tank. They like to play in it.

* They are sprayed or misted down twice a day.

* Their enclosure is kept scrupulously clean. Water in the tank is changed daily. The area is disinfected with bleach twice a day.

* They are well fed. Twice a day each receives 1 1/2 pounds of thawed fish. They are also given a vitamin pill twice a day tucked into their fish.

When they are recovered:

* If, due to injuries, they cannot be released, they are placed in a zoo or similar institution.

* If they are back in good health, they are transported to Sea World in San Diego, from which they are released at the ocean.

According to Mary

Mary Powell-McConnell, the pelicans' caregiver, says brown pelicans are "wonderful birds - goofy, cocky and full of personality." At feeding time, they meet her at the gate squawking, with bills snapping with excitement.

One liked to grab a running hose and spray everything and everyone in sight. Another thought the coiled hose was his nest and had to be chased off it when it was needed. One liked to sneak up on Mary from the back and attempt to nip her, but quickly retreated as soon as she started to turn toward him.

When fully fed and feeling good, the pelicans do what Mary calls a "Happy Pelican Dance," running around and shaking their tails.

Feeding and caring for pelicans and other animals costs a lot. If you'd like to help the Museum pay for all those fish and services, you can go to the museum's Web site, www.desertmuseum.org, and click on "Support Our Animal Care Fund" to find out how.

Pelicans and ocean life of the Gulf of California

Pelicans may seem out of place in the desert. But the Sonoran Desert has miles and miles of coastline along the Gulf of California and the Pacific Ocean in Mexico. There, pelicans are a common sight.

All content copyright © 1999-2004 AzStarNet, Arizona Daily Star and its wire services and suppliers ....

Prey Abounds but Pelicans Are Starving
From Times Staff and Wire Reports
July 24, 2004
California's endangered brown pelicans are starving to death during a bumper year for anchovies, their preferred prey,
wildlife officials said.
Naturalist Sandy Cate of the Arizona Game and Fish Department said the phenomenon appeared to be linked to an
explosion in pelican numbers combined with changes in Pacific Ocean temperatures.
"There is no food to sustain the numbers that were born this year," Cate said.


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Posted on Thu, Jul. 22, 2004
Pelicans nursed in Cayucos back yard
With many of the birds stranding themselves on beaches, eight surviving juveniles are being cared for
Nathan Welton The Tribune
CAYUCOS - An alarming number of endangered brown pelicans have stranded themselves on beaches along the Central Coast and around California during the past month, and many have died, wildlife experts say.
The birds all appear to be starving and emaciated.
"They're basically too weak to move, they stop grooming, they become very weak and then they get cold," Dani Nicholson, a member of the local nonprofit Pacific Wildlife Care, said Wednesday.
Eight surviving juvenile pelicans are now using her Cayucos home as a rehabilitation center, and her organization has taken in 22 of the animals so far. Fourteen have lived.
Although they're not positive, scientists have laid blame for the starvation on low food supplies -- due possibly to either overfishing or fewer baitfish -- and a strong breeding season this year.
Experts also say the starvations appear to be part of a statewide trend.
Sea World in San Diego has treated 130 emaciated pelicans, while the San Pedro-based International Bird Rescue Research Center reports having about 30 in its care.
"It's hard to say but (the number stranded around California) is definitely in the hundreds," said the center's spokeswoman Karen Benzel. "There are vast stretches of beach in Southern California where there might not be people seeing the birds -- and then there are the Channel Islands."
A similar situation happened about three years ago, according to center director Jay Holcomb.
Pelicans are not unusual wildlife rescue patients, but they're in rehabilitation for an atypical reason this year.
Nicholson, whose home serves as the organization's main sea bird rehabilitation site, said she normally cares for physically injured birds, not starving ones.

Last year she saw just one pelican, down from six the year before -- and all of those were wounded.
When beachgoers spot a downed pelican this year, they're being asked to phone a local hotline to summon volunteer rescuers who will transport it to Nicholson's house.
The animals typically suffer from exhaustion and low body temperatures, so Nicholson warms them up and administers fluids containing electrolytes and vitamins.
When they've sufficiently recovered, she'll feed them fish, of which her eight birds collectively eat 30-40 pounds a day.
Nicholson said she's about to use up a baitfish donation from the Morro Bay Aquarium, and she'll soon resort to a $50 per-day fish diet from a local vendor.
When the birds have fully recovered - after two to three weeks - volunteers then release them.

Because the animals are mostly young, scientists believe they're inexperienced at foraging and quicker to make mistakes.
And there are many birds now competing for what could be a limited food supply.
"The reality is there's a high mortality rate in the first year because that's the way nature does it," said Holcomb.
This season's pelican breeding on west Anacapa Island began in early November and continued through June in what experts say might become one of the most productive on record on the island. It was also only the second breeding season to begin before January in the last 35 years.

Biologists have seen additional breeding success in parts of Baja California, particularly in the Gulf of California and around Islas Todos Santos. The young birds have increased in number and have been spotted begging around piers and wharves, unwilling or unable to catch their own food.
"When we returned to Ensenada from Islas Todos Santos last week, we witnessed about 85 young-of-the-year pelicans literally marauding in a pack on the plaza adjacent to the harbor," wrote Frank Gress, of the California Institute of Environmental Studies, in a letter to wildlife experts.
"Vendors doling out anchovies were getting mobbed by this band of young pelicans; the pack surged from vendor to vendor and as it pushed through the crowd of people there, it became somewhat menacing," he added.
Gress described the pack becoming so aggressive that a vendor tried unsuccessfully to disperse it with a high pressure hose.
"This scene, to say the least, was very bizarre," Gress wrote.

Large amounts of food early in the season helped trigger copious breeding rates. But for unknown reasons, baitfish supplies have declined.
"The lack of food -- mostly anchovies, but also sardines when available -- appears to be the cause of the mortality reported," Gress wrote. "For some reason food supplies have recently become scarce."
Some have suggested rising ocean temperatures have caused the fish to reside in cooler water too deep for the birds, while others have blamed the decline on overfishing.
Pacific Wildlife Care estimates it costs about $150 to rehabilitate a pelican, and is soliciting adopt-a-pelican donations. Rescue organizations in other areas are estimating the cost at around $200.
Scores of other brown pelicans reportedly crash landed this month in Arizona, apparently confusing shimmering roadways and parking lots with water. They're now being shipped back to California for treatment.
California's brown pelicans nearly went extinct in the 1960s when the chemical DDT built up in their bodies. That caused thin egg shells, leading their eggs to break.
The federal government listed the bird as an endangered species in 1970 when just 200-300 breeding pairs remained; that number has since swelled to around 6,000.
Nathan Welton covers county and health issues. Contact him at 781-7858 or nwelton@thetrib unenews.c
© 2004 San Luis Obispo Tribune and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

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White Pelicans threatened in Ukraine

EU Requests Halt on Ukraine's Danube Canal Work Ecolinks News ServiceBUCHAREST, July 22, 2004 – Environmental groups and the European Union (EU) are urging the Ukrainian government to stop construction work on the controversial canal in the Danube River delta due to environmental concerns.
The project began this spring after much debate. The area is protected by the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, is part of the Ukrainian and Romanian cross-border biosphere reserve and is on the UNESCO global reserve network list, but the Ukraine continued construction.
With dredging already started, the damage to the Danube Delta nature reserve is just beginning. The proposed 3kmdeep-water channel will pass through an internationally protected part of the reserve and destroy the nesting areas of thousands of endangered birds. This area is the most important breeding area for birds in all of Europe. There are 280 bird species, five of which are from the European Red list and 31 are from the Red Book of Ukraine (these are species which are known to be threatened with extinction). The wetland is home to 70 percent of the world's white pelicans and 50 percent of pygmy cormorants. The canal will also allow oil pollution into the reserve.
"We have asked Ukraine to stop the building work until a full environmental impact study is carried out," stated Catherine Day, general director of the European Commission's Directorate General for Environment.Ukraine says the canal is merely the reopening of a project abandoned during the Soviet era and would provide better access to the Black Sea, needed for social and economic reasons in a very poor region. "There are three deep waterways in the delta, none of them in Ukraine," Alexandr Motsyk, Ukraine's Deputy Foreign Minister, said. "We have a right to reopen a deep waterway in the Ukrainian part of the Danube."
According to the Ukrainian Union for Bird Conservation (UTOP) there are at least six preferable alternative routes to the proposed canal including Solomonov – Zhebriyanovskaya Bay. The United States has asked the Ukraine “to respect its international obligations” and urged “an urgent evaluation of the effects of the proposed new channel on the environment in order to minimize its destructive impact.”

N.C. birds find home on sand deposits
By CATHERINE KOZAK, The Virginian-Pilot
© July 22, 2004
Last updated: 9:02 PM

Make a big sand pile in the sound, and the birds will come.
Thousands of waterbirds use the dredge spoil islands in the Pamlico Sound, west of Oregon Inlet, to build nests and forage, making the otherwise useless sand deposits an important habitat for the birds who have lost territory to development.
“There’s so many people now,” said David Allen, coastal nongame supervisor with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. “And they’re throwing their towels down right where these birds would have nested.”
One of the newer islands near the inlet has remained unvegetated because the corps keeps piling dredge spoil on it, inhibiting plant growth. The bare sand is preferred by American oystercatchers and terns, who like to nest in shallow depressions in the sand. Starting next year, Cameron said, biologists plan to use recordings and decoys to attract terns to the island to nest.
Nearby, pelicans rule shrubby Island MN, where 1,500 pairs nested this year. Once near extinction, the large birds have had a remarkable comeback.
“They’ve done phenomenally in the state,” Allen said. “Of course, North Carolina has a huge amount of habitat for pelicans.”
Most of the spoil islands are shared at one time or another by a couple of waterbird species, with birds coming and going depending on the vegetation and the time of the year.
“I kind of look at these colonial nesting birds as an indicator for the environment,” Allen said. “We have a real good idea of how many that nest. And when we track them year after year, the number of nesting pairs is definitely an indicator of how many the ecosystem can support.”
Reach Catherine Kozak at (252) 441-1711 or cate.kozak@pilotonline.com.
© 2004 HamptonRoads.com/PilotOnline.com

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July 21
West Valley View- News
‘Wayward’ pelicans crash-land in the WV

by Mike Burkett
staff writer
If you’re in the West Valley desert and happen to see a giant bird rising from the ashes of the Arizona summer, it’s almost certainly not the fabled Phoenix.
It’s probably a pelican.
Over the past month, hundreds of California brown pelicans have been landing in Arizona ponds and lakes — and crash-landing on the state’s pavements and roads after mistaking them for water, wildlife officials said.
Experts believe the 6- to 9-pound birds are heading inland to hunt for fish because of food shortages along the west coast caused by hot weather drying out waterways. If so, their hunt is taking them all across the state — from as far south as Yuma to as far north as Flagstaff.
In the West Valley, Arizona Game & Fish officials have been directed to pelicans found on Interstate 10 near Verrado Way; in ponds near Arlington and Palo Verde; at Gillespie Dam; and, two weeks ago, in the parking lot of the Cholla Ranch Apartments at Miller and Baseline roads in Buckeye.
“We had a lady call and tell us there was a pelican in her apartment complex,” Buckeye Valley Rural Fire District Chief Norm Cooper recalled. “When we got there, it looked like it was injured or stunned or didn’t know what the hell he was doing.”
As it turned out, the pelican wasn’t hurt; just hot and dehydrated.
“He didn’t want to be picked up, but I threw a towel over his head — and then all he wanted to do was eat me. But once I grabbed hold of his beak, it was easy to hold it shut,” Cooper said.
Cooper handed the pelican over to Buckeye Animal Control, which passed it over to Arizona Game & Fish, which gave the bird to Sandy Cate, coordinator for the Wildlife Center at the Adobe Mountain Preserve in Phoenix.

Wayward youths
The brown pelicans — pelecanus occidentalis — have been protected under the Endangered Species Act since 1972. They are grayish brown seabirds with wingspans of up to nine feet and bills that have large pouches underneath. While some migrate to Arizona during the monsoon season each year, the number arriving this month is unusually high.
“We’ve been finding them all over the Valley: Gilbert, Chandler, Tempe Town Lake,” Cate said. “There’s five different ponds [where pelicans have taken up residence] near Gila Bend. The last one I picked up was found in Flagstaff.”
Cate herself spotted the pelican on Interstate 10 near Verrado Way.
“It was just flying alongside of the highway,” she said.
The reason the birds have flown so far off course is that they are “young and immature birds; they have not perfected their flight technique yet. As wind and storms come into the Valley, they get caught up in those storms,” Cate said.
“Also, they have difficulty distinguishing a road from a river; that’s why we’re finding so many of them near roads and parking lots. And that is also why so many of them are injured; they’re crash-landing on the pavement, thinking it’s water.”
Most of the birds that are being found and captured, however, are not injured.
“They’re just wayward birds,” Cate said.
So far, Arizona Game & Fish has captured about 60 pelicans. Half of those have been transferred to the avian rescue center at SeaWorld San Diego for treatment. The other half are not yet ready for shipment.
“Before we do that, we have to get the animals stabilized; they have to be in good body weight; they have to be bright, alert and self-feeding; and they have to be showing no signs of injuries or abnormal stress,” Cate said.
“The second critical component is that we cannot overload SeaWorld. Right now, they’re inundated by the pelicans being found in California, let alone the ones they’re getting from us. We have to wait until they have sufficient room availability and materials to treat the animals, and release those, which recover.”
As of last week, more than 130 ailing pelicans had been brought to SeaWorld, and more than 35 had died. Another 35 remained critically ill, and about a dozen had been released.
If a brown pelican is on or near a fish-stocked body of water, and it appears to be healthy and uninjured, it should be left alone, Cate said. But if the bird looks sick or injured, or there is no fish-stocked body of water nearby, “They need to give us a call,” she added.

Bird calls

The Arizona Game & Fish Department has set up a 24-hour hotline at 602-789-3925 specifically for wayward-pelican reports. A caller must be prepared to report when he saw the pelican; the major cross streets nearest where the bird was spotted; and if it appeared to be sick or injured.
The Game & Fish Department then will contact the closest rehabilitator for assistance in capturing and caring for the animal.
For individuals who might consider picking up a pelican on their own to get it out of a roadway, Cate has some advice.
“Watch that beak,” she said. “It has an extremely sharp, pointed tip, and the animal will use it as a weapon. The best thing to do is to throw a large sheet, towel or blanket over the animal, then scoop him up and get him out of the way.
“But once you uncover him, stay away — and don’t let any dogs or children get near it. You don’t want anyone to be injured, and you don’t want to add stress to the pelican,” Cate added.
“Stress is a big killer for all animals — especially these pelicans, who have already been compromised with their flight across Arizona.”

Mike Burkett can be reached by e-mail at mburkett@westvalleyview.com.© 2004 West Valley View-Material may be copied for private, non-commercial use only. No material may be copied for commercial use. All Rights Reserved.

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East African pelicans on the move

Flamingoes Desert Lake National Park
The Nation (Nairobi)
July 20, 2004

Posted to the web July 20, 2004
Virtually all mature flamingoes and pelicans have deserted Lake Nakuru National Park, warden Joseph Warutere has said.
The flamingo population at the lake rises to about 1.2 million when their main food - the blue-green algae (spirulina platensis) - is abundant.
Mr Warutere said yesterday that only about 150,000 flamingoes, mainly young and old, had been left behind on the shores of the saline lake.
He said that about 1,000 pelicans had also migrated to other lakes, leaving fewer than 1,000 others. The pelicans mainly feed on the tilapia-grahami fish species.
The flamingoes breed at Lake Natron in Tanzania. They also migrate to Lake Bogoria in Kenya and other wetlands in Ethiopia.
"The birds will always come back. Lake Nakuru is their home," Mr Warutere said in reference to the flamingoes.
He added that pasture at the park was drying up, but no deaths of herbivores had occurred.
He said that the park's management was installing more water troughs in several parts because of the reduced water levels in the streams that discharge into the lake.
Mr Warutere said that invasive weeds had also reduced pasture within the park.
The park has about 3,000 buffaloes, hundreds of impalas, water bucks, zebras, giraffes, warthogs and about 100 rhinos. The number of water bucks has risen gradually after dropping in the 1980s due to a suspected food-chain clash with the bulk eaters - mainly the buffaloes, zebras and rhinos.

Copyright © 2004 The Nation. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com).

San Pedro, CA (PRWEB) July 17, 2004
Another year of hardship for California’s brown pelicans San Pedro center working hard to save starving pelicans

California Brown Pelicans, an endangered species, are starving from lack of food. They are recovering at a state-of-the-art wildlife rescue center, specifically built to care for seabirds, in San Pedro California.
-- At International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) in San Pedro, the staff and volunteers are once again overwhelmed with California brown pelicans.
Previous summers have been spent treating this endangered species for fishing line/hook injuries, domoic acid poisoning, botulism and young pelicans who haven’t been able to find enough food to survive. But this year, starving pelicans are showing up by the hundreds. Why the pelicans are starving remains a mystery, however, researchers are hard at work to explain the latest peril to the pelicans. Although some of the birds respond to supportive care, many don’t and the death toll is climbing.

IBRRC’s center, located at Fort Mac Arthur in San Pedro, is currently caring for 30 debilitated, dehydrated, and emaciated pelicans, mostly young birds two years old or less. “This is the time of year that we typically start getting in juvenile pelicans, either because they can’t find enough fish to eat, or their fishing skills aren’t yet perfected. When they’ve used up their energy reserves they beach themselves, exhausted,” said Jay Holcomb, Director of IBRRC. “Upon intake, we carefully examine them, to make sure they don’t have injuries from fishing lines or hooks that would compromise their ability to plunge dive. They are weighed and blood samples are taken. The blood work is showing they are emaciated and anemic, signs of a lack of adequate nutrition. Their course of treatment is typically two to three weeks of rest and fish. The birds are not showing signs of domoic acid poisoning, or abnormal parasite loads."

Bodies of dead birds are being sent to laboratories run by the state and federal governments and the UC Davis veterinary school. Pathologists will determine whether the birds were infected with avian influenza, algal toxin or a viral disease like west Nile virus. Botulism is a significant cause of mortality for brown pelicans at the nearby Salton Sea, but it is typically not a concern for the coastal population.

IBRRC is caring for pelicans that have come from the Newport Beach area to Santa Barbara however in the past two weeks, hundreds of brown pelicans have been rescued. The majority were found in the San Diego area and taken to SeaWorld. 30 brown pelicans crash-landed in Arizona, apparently mistaking the heat-induced shimmer of paved surfaces for water.
California brown pelicans are a sub-species that nearly became extinct in the late 1960s’ from DDT and DDE, which caused their eggshells to thin. When they were listed in 1970, only 200-300 breeding pairs remained. Today, biologists studying the bird’s breeding colonies, the majority of which are on West Anacapa Island and the Channel Islands, estimate their population to be approximately 6,000 breeding pairs.

IBRRC is a proud member of the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) a legislatively mandated program within The California Fish and Game, Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) which strives to ensure that wildlife exposed to petroleum products in the environment receive the best achievable treatment by providing access to permanent wildlife rehabilitation facilities and trained personnel for oil spill response within California.



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Endangered Pelicans Starving on Orange County Coast
Endangered young Brown Pelicans suffering the effects of starvation are being rescued on
Orange County beaches.
Volunteers are working overtime to recover ailing birds.

(PRWEB) July 15, 2004 -- (PRWEB) July 15, 2004 -- Young pelicans migrating from Mexican breeding grounds are dieing
as they arrive on Orange County beaches. Large numbers of the ailing birds are being rescued from San Onofre to Dana
Point. Reports of the ill birds have also surfaced in San Diego. Some are being found as far away as Southern Arizona.
“Most of the pelicans that we are presently rescuing are young of the year birds, they are suffering from starvation and
most have bacterial infections which will worsen their medical condition should they become anorexic” explains Linda McLeod,
director of “Pacific Wildlife Project,” located in Southern Orange County. A similar event occurred once before in 1993
when hundreds of pelicans had to be rescued. About 50 of those birds had been brutalized by competing anglers as fish
became scarce.

Causes for this recent event have speculated to be global warming and over fishing to over-population and the polluting
of our oceans. Kurt Lieber, president of “Ocean Defenders Alliance” attributes the cause, in part, to overuse of the ocean’s
resources. While it is known that the Sea of Cortez, a significant breeding area for pelicans has suffered massive
fish shortages, it is not known what impact that die-off has on pelicans. "young birds could be desperate for food and
leaving the nesting ground earlier and in greater numbers to find food" adds Lieber "If they are already weak from
food scarcity, the migratory trip will have a devastating impact on them as they arrive here". Thus far, agencies
have no solid information on the cause.

Sick pelicans are being recovered daily by Rescue Teams from the “Pacific Wildlife Project.” Their Rescue Teams patrol
harbors and beaches searching for pelicans and other ailing seabirds on a year round basis. The volunteer non-profit
organization is one of just a few overtaxed rescue effort groups in Southern California. The Award Winning Project,
famous for its unprecedented response to the Salton Sea Botulism crisis, specializes in the care of pelicans and other
seabirds. They also treat small mammals and all species of land birds.
Rescue Team Volunteers have been working overtime to save the endangered pelicans. According to the groups
rescue leader, Julie Tobin, “We are exhausted, our people are working all day and into the evening trying to rescue
as many as we can of these beautiful creatures.” The sick pelicans are stabilized and treated at the project’s wildlife
rescue center.

The already financially strained organization recently lost their lease space at the City of Irvine’s animal shelter
and is presently looking for a suitable facility. They are requesting assistance with rescues, transport and donations
to help pay for medical treatment and food costs. For more information, go to the Project’s website at
. Please call (949) 831-1178 or (949) 440-6247.
Contacts: help@pacificwildlife.org


Also: see the Los Angeles Times:

She Swoops In to Help Starving Pelicans Survive
Orange County woman has been nursing sick birds for years. Now her home has become a recovery facility.
By Dave McKibben
Times Staff Writer
July 15, 2004
Linda McLeod's Pacific Wildlife Project has been a sick pelican's best friend for 20 years.
Now that friendship is getting its stiffest test yet: A few days after Pacific Wildlife lost its lease at the expanding
Irvine Animal Care Center, starving brown pelicans began turning up on Orange County beaches.
Since McLeod doesn't have a facility to care for them, she invited them into her Laguna Niguel house.
"The timing couldn't be worse," she said. "But how can you walk away from that? There's no other facility for
treatment in south Orange County. What choice do I have? All of these birds would die."
Some of the ailing pelicans have died from starvation and injuries, but McLeod has saved more than 30 at her
makeshift recovery facility and sent them on to a state-funded bird rescue and recovery center in San Pedro.
The Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach has saved and released about half of the two dozen
sick birds it has treated.

An additional 130 pelicans have been found on San Diego County's beaches and taken to the avian rescue
center at Sea World. McLeod said starving young pelicans also began showing up on the county's beaches in the
early 1990s after an El Niño weather pattern.
Bird experts have been unable to explain the current phenomenon, but McLeod is blaming El Niño again.
"The fish go deeper or farther out when the water's warm, so that doesn't give the young pelicans enough to eat,"
McLeod said. "And the young ones are the worst fishermen because they're so inexperienced, which is why the fish
shortage hits them that much harder.
"The bulk of the birds are failing in San Diego before they get up this far. There's a current that the birds follow
and it comes all the way up to Orange County. It's an unusual event for Orange County, and ominous."


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Where did all the pelicans go?
Birds abandon chicks, eggs at refuge where they usually breed

Steve Friess, Special to The San Francisco Chronicle; Tuesday, July 13, 2004


Starving pelicans brought in to SeaWorld; Officials not sure why young birds are ailing
By Terry Rodgers
July 13, 2004AUTUMN CRUZ / Union-Tribune
Weak and hungry juvenile brown pelicans are turning up by the dozens along the beaches of San Diego County.
Over the past two weeks, more than 130 ailing pelicans have been brought to the avian rescue center at SeaWorld
San Diego for treatment.
SeaWorld officials said they have heard reports that more pelicans have turned up sick in northern Baja California.
Dr. Judy St. Leger, a SeaWorld veterinarian, said the birds don't appear to be suffering from disease or exposure to
pollution or toxics.

All are starving.
"When they come in, the birds are terribly weak and debilitated," she said, adding that it's not clear why the young
pelicans aren't getting enough to eat. Seals and sea lions feed on the same diet of small fish, but the marine
mammals aren't being affected.
"I've never seen anything like this," she said.
But there's one important clue: The sick pelicans are almost exclusively young ones that are relatively
inexperienced at foraging.
One likely possibility is that sardines, anchovies and other small fish that make up the birds' diet have moved
farther offshore into deeper waters and are harder for the young birds to find, St. Leger said.

So far, more than 35 of the pelicans brought to SeaWorld have died. SeaWorld's avian care staff yesterday
was still caring for approximately 50 pelicans, 35 of which are critically ill and remain in intensive care.
About a a dozen have been released.
When the birds are brought in, many are given vitamin injections and rehydrated intravenously with fluids.
Once they are stabilized, the birds are fed a gruel. Only after they regain their strength are they fed small fish.
Those that recover after two to three weeks of care in captivity are released to the wild with a number stenciled
on their bill or neck sack so they can be identified if they return.


personal communication: The Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network is also continuing to receive young pelicans,
emaciated and often starving.

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Follow-up story by John Dodge

TheOlympian.com Olympia, Washington Sunday, July 11th, 2004
Bird sightings create memories

While checking with local bird-watching sources and wildlife biologists -- they all concurred that brown pelican
sightings in South Sound are extremely rare -- I heard another interesting pelican story that I didn't have room
for in my daily story.Eric Cummins, a longtime biologist with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, saw several
brown pelicans fishing for surf smelt at the mouth of the Hoh River on the Olympic Peninsula over the July 4 weekend.
Diving into the water, the pelicans would then rise up and sift through their beaks full of water for the smelt.
"Their beaks looked like fish bowls with the smelt sloshing around," Cummins said.
After the story ran last week, David Schoen, a physician's assistant in Olympia, shared with me another rare
South Sound encounter with yet another species of pelican -- the American white pelican.
This large, white pelican with a huge orange-yellow bill breeds in Canada and the interior West and makes only
the occasional visit to Puget Sound.

Schoen saw nine adult white pelicans near the mouth of McAllister Creek on June 9, and then returned in his sea
kayak June 12 for another look. "I only saw one bird, but I got within 50 feet of it," he said. "I sat there for
30 minutes watching it feed. It was amazing."


Posted on Sat, Jul. 10, 2004
Where are the pelicans? Everybody has a theory, but no one really knows
Associated Press
CHASE LAKE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, N.D. - The air here this time of year usually is filled with the grunts
and squawks of thousands of white pelicans and their chicks. The giant birds, known as aerial acrobats, have made
it their home for at least 100 years.
Now their nesting grounds are quiet. The pelicans are gone. And no one really knows why.
Everybody from biologists to bartenders has a theory.
The 4,385-acre refuge in central North Dakota had been known as the home of the largest nesting colony
of white pelicans in North America.
The nearly 28,000 birds that showed up to nest here in early April took off in late May and early June,
leaving their chicks and eggs behind.
"Those wildlife agents scared them away," said Jake Bohl, a blacksmith in Woodworth, a town of about 80 people,
15 miles northeast of Chase Lake. "That's my explanation."



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Community News YumaSun.com
Pelicans parade at pit stop
Pam Smith Sun Staff Writer
Jul 10, 2004 — Some unusual visitors made the usual pit stop in Yuma on a trip from Phoenix to San Diego Friday morning.
A dozen brown pelicans rescued in the Tucson and Phoenix areas were unloaded from a rental truck and transferred
to a white, air-conditioned SeaWorld truck in the parking lot of the Yuma Crossing Park.
Ten of the large, endangered seabirds had been rescued and turned over to the Sonora Desert Museum, said
Shawnee Riplog-Peterson, curator of Mammology/Orinthology at the museum. "The other two were from Phoenix
Game and Fish and brought to meet us in Gila Bend."

Peterson and Mary Powell-McConnell, records and quarantine technician at the Desert Museum, left Tucson at
5:30 a.m. to rendezvous with Stephanie Costelow and Lauren DuBois, assistant curators of birds at SeaWorld.
The pelicans were transported in large pet carriers.
"Some of them aren't too happy with us, because they weren't fed this morning," Riplog-Peterson said. "We feed
them smelt, and each bird consumes about three pounds a day."


Anyone finding a brown pelican should contact Kofa Fish and Wildlife at (928) 783-7861, or
Arizona Game and Fish Department at 342-0091.


NPR: All Things Considered — July 10, 2004


RASH of Pelicans Injuries Far from the Sea in Ariz.
NPR (audio) - USA
NPR's Melissa Block speaks with Sandy Cate, coordinator and wildlife naturalist for the Arizona Game and Fish
Wildlife Center at Adobe Mountain, about the recent flux of injuries to brown pelicans landing on paved surfaces
across the state. The pelicans, miles from their natural habitat of the Sea of Cortez far to the south, are believed
to be mistaking heat waves for bodies of water. When they try to land in these mirages, they often break their wings.

Science - AP
Some Pelicans Mistaking Asphalt for Lakes
Fri Jul 9, 2:28 PM ET

PHOENIX - More than 30 endangered brown pelicans have crashed onto sidewalks and roads in Arizona, mistaking
the heat-induced shimmer of the paved surface for lakes and creeks.

"They try to land on the water, but it's asphalt and it's `Bam! That doesn't feel so good,'" said Sandy Cate,
director of the Arizona Game and Fish Department's wildlife center at Adobe Mountain in north Phoenix.
During the past two weeks, the injured pelicans have been found from Yuma to Phoenix, the department said Thursday.
The pelicans have been treated mostly for dehydration and emaciation.
Wildlife experts believe the endangered birds are experiencing a food shortage along the West Coast and are
heading to Arizona to find fish. The sun's reflection, mixed with hot and cool layers of air create mirages, and the
birds mistake smooth pavements for water.

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July 7, 2004
Section: National; Page: A1
Brown pelican makes rare appearance

John Dodge
The Olympian
At least a few brown pelicans have made a fairly uncommon and early visit to South Sound waters this summer,
according to two recent sightings by Olympia-area residents.
While it's not unusual to see thousands of the large, slow-flying birds with elongated bills off the Washington coast
by late summer and into the late fall and winter, longtime South Sound bird watchers said they are rare in the inland
waters of Puget Sound.

"I've never seen one in South Sound," said Bob Morse, Olympia author of "Birds of the Puget Sound Region."
"I've seen one in the late fall off Boston Harbor since 1973," said Bill Tweit, a state fisheries scientist whose avocation
is bird watching and ocean bird surveys.

Ken Russell, a retired state Department of Natural Resources forester, spotted a brown pelican about 5 p.m. Thursday
while sailing in lower Budd Inlet.The bird was preening on a cedar log on the west side of the inlet, opposite Priest Point Park, he said."I've been kicking around South Sound in my sailboat for 40 years, and it's the first one I've seen down here," he said.
Heath Packard, a field director for the state office of the National Audubon Society, saw two brown pelicans bobbing in
the water east of Vashon Island during a June 26 sailboat race.

A check of field note accounts to the Washington Ornithological Society found no reports of brown pelicans this far south in Puget Sound in recent years, said Tim Cullinan, Washington Audubon's science director. The number of pelicans in Washington coastal waters has been steadily increasing since the 1983 El Nino, which brought the pelicans north in search of food and back to a northern habitat range they had all but abandoned for nearly a century, Tweit said.

The island-nesting birds, which dive bill-first into the sea for fish, suffered from the use of pesticides such as DDT.
The federal government listed them as endangered in 1970, and Washington listed them in 1980. They remain on
both lists despite a steady rebound in numbers.

The birds breed off the California and Mexican coasts and are common visitors to the mouth of the Columbia River,
Willapa Bay, Grays Harbor and as far north as Dahdayla Island west of Forks.
But Puget Sound is not common territory for the pelican.

The birds spotted recently were most likely nonbreeding adults or juveniles, which tend to migrate north sooner
than the breeding birds, said Eric Cummins, section manager for the state Fish and Wildlife's surveys and forest wildlife.
He said it's possible South Sound could see more brown pelicans as their population continues to rebound.
"That hypothesis is not out of the question," Cummins said. "Over the past 25 years, pelicans have made an amazing recovery."

Copyright (c) The Olympian. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Gannett Co., Inc.
by NewsBank,

Wayward Pelicans
By Mindy Blake, News Anchor
Posted 7/8/04
Some wayward pelicans will soon find their way home after a desert detour. The Desert Museum is taking care of ten
pelicans who were found a bit off course here in Southern Arizona. The big birds are probably from Mexico.
The Desert Museum's Shawnee Riplog-Peterson said, "They were just up in the thermals and got blown off course. Many
of these birds are young and their navigational skills aren't well honed to their fullest potential."
Tomorrow museum workers will drive the birds to Yuma where Sea World staffers will meet them. The pelicans will spend
some time at Sea World before they are released into the wild.
Pelicans end up in Tucson every year. The museum expects even more this summer, when the monsoon arrives.

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abandoned eggs at Chase Lake NWR

Photo Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

In North Dakota, Pelicans Leave A Breeding Ground for Mystery
Birds' Abandonment of Wildlife Refuge Baffles Researchers

By Steve Friess
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, July 4, 2004; Page A03
CHASE LAKE, N.D. -- Right now from the verdant bluff looming over a remote section of shoreline, an observer ought tobe able to peer down at swarms of American white pelicans squawking, fluttering and going about the fowl business of breeding.
Yet this year, that perch's vista is instead one of baffling desolation, a plain of baby chick carcasses and hundreds of
never-to-hatch eggs simply left behind for the snacking pleasure of hungry coyotes and gulls.
In a quirky and unprecedented natural mystery, the world's largest breeding colony for the birds is eerily vacant.


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July 5, Santa Barbara, CaliforniaJune Taylor of the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network continues to take in juvenile Brown Pelicans that are emaciated,
sometimes weighing little more than 3 pounds. They come from up and down the Central Coast. June has found that if they weigh less than 5 pounds, there is little chance of survival. Others, though, are active and very, very hungry. After eating a lot of fish, smelts, the young birds are full of strength and fly out on their own to the ocean. Quite a few others have not been so lucky as to be found in time. Despite the local presence of "red tide" off Stearns Wharf, there's no indication of pelican domoic acid poisoning. Also, there's no indication of an El Niño condition: the water temperatures off Santa Barbara have been about normal, maybe even a little below normal, into the low-to-mid 60s.
— personal communication from Mick Kronman, Santa Barbara Harbor Operations Manager.

July 3, 2004 — Domoic acid levels remain high in Humboldt County, CA. Testing on June 30 showed 78 ppm in razor clams on Clam Beach, four times the amount that would trigger a quarantine. No reports of pelicans affected in the Humboldt or nearby counties area.


July 1, 2004 at 4:33 PM MST
Another pelican found lost in the desert near Sierra Vista
Why did the pelican cross the road? Apparently, because it was blown off course from its home in the Gulf of Mexico,
hundreds of miles from here.
On Wednesday, Frank Knight was driving home from a doctor's appointment when he saw a bird in the road. He stopped,
but the bird didn't get off the highway.
"I was thinking, 'What's wrong with this bird?'" he said.
So, Knight talked to the pelican, picked it up and put it in his truck. He drove the bird to the San Pedro House, which
is run by the Friends of the San Pedro.
Local wildlife rehabilitator Ilse Beebe said she sees two or three pelicans a year blown off course by strong winds.
She suspects the pelican found Wednesday makes its home in the Gulf of Mexico.
The pelican will join seven great horned owl babies, two cottontail rabbits and a falcon at Beebe's rehabilitation facility
until the Game and Fish Department can transport it to the the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson. From there,
it should be sent home.
"They'll know where it came from," Beebe said.

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