July, 2004, News about pelicans from around the world
Arizona Daily Star
Lost pelicans rehabbed at Desert
Young birds lack skills to stay on course
By George L. Mountainlion
SPECIAL TO THE ARIZONA DAILY STAR
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
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.
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
"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!
What is brown pelican life like at the Desert
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
* 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
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
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
"There is no food to sustain the numbers that were
born this year," Cate said.
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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
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
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,"
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
"This scene, to say the least, was very bizarre,"
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.
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
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
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Pelicans threatened in Ukraine
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
birds find home on sand deposits
By CATHERINE KOZAK, The Virginian-Pilot
© July 22, 2004
Last updated: 9:02 PM
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
“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
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
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
Reach Catherine Kozak at (252) 441-1711 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Valley View- News
‘Wayward’ pelicans crash-land
in the WV
by Mike Burkett
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
“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.
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
“It was just flying alongside of the highway,”
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,”
“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.
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
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 email@example.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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African pelicans on the move
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).
Pedro, CA (PRWEB) July 17, 2004
Another year of hardship for California’s
brown pelicans San Pedro center working hard to save starving
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
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
INFORMATION: Karen Benzel
INTERNATIONAL BIRD RESCUE RESEARCH CENTER Visit
Our Site 831-622-7588
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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
most have bacterial infections which will worsen their medical
condition should they become anorexic” explains Linda
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
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
leaving the nesting ground earlier and in greater numbers
to find food" adds Lieber "If they are already
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
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
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
as many as we can of these beautiful creatures.” The
sick pelicans are stabilized and treated at the project’s
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
www.pacificwildlife.org. Please call (949) 831-1178
or (949) 440-6247.
see the Los Angeles Times:
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
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
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
in to SeaWorld; Officials not sure why young birds are ailing
By Terry Rodgers
UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
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.
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
communication: The Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network is
also continuing to receive young pelicans,
emaciated and often starving.
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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
30 minutes watching it feed. It was amazing."
on Sat, Jul. 10, 2004
Where are the pelicans? Everybody has a theory, but
no one really knows
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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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
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
them smelt, and each bird consumes about three pounds a
finding a brown pelican should contact Kofa Fish and Wildlife
at (928) 783-7861, or
Arizona Game and Fish Department at 342-0091.
All Things Considered — July 10, 2004
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.
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
"They try to land on the water, but it's asphalt and
it's `Bam! That doesn't feel so good,'" said Sandy
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
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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Section: National; Page: A1
Brown pelican makes rare appearance
BY JOHN DODGE
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
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
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
Copyright (c) The Olympian. All rights reserved. Reproduced
with the permission of Gannett Co., Inc.
By Mindy Blake, News Anchor
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
Pelicans end up in Tucson every year. The museum expects
even more this summer, when the monsoon arrives.
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Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
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
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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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.
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.
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
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?'"
So, Knight talked to the pelican, picked it up and put it
in his truck. He drove the bird to the San Pedro House,
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
until the Game and Fish Department can transport it to the
Desert Museum in Tucson. From there,
it should be sent home.
"They'll know where it came from," Beebe said.
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for RECENT 2006, pelican news
for November-December, 2005 Pelican News (with links at the
bottom of the page to the rest of 2005.)
for December, 2004, pelican news (with links at the bottom
of the page to the rest of 2004.)