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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. There is also occasional news of other endangered bird species and threats to seabirds, especially, but also other birds, worldwide. The hope is to draw support for the Santa Barbara pelicans: by appreciating pelicans and other endangered birds world-wide, we can appreciate and support even more those rescued birds now healthy but unable to be free.

NB: For longer stories, this non-profit site, PelicanLife.org, will edit, with edits marked by ... or :::snip:::, and will provide active links to the original sources. PelicanLife's News section's 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.


February-March, 2005

Reward offered

Long way from normal-winter-home sightings; California oil spill (January News page)

Advice on unhooking a pelican | Albatross | American White in MN | Australia | California oil spill1, seepage ruled out | Chase Lake | diclofenac | Galveston oiling | Idaho | Illinois | India bans vulture toxic | Oiled Bird Care Center | Red Tide in FL,1| Sakhalin | a Texas recovery | Winnapaug Pond peli dies | Wyoming spring

Although not directly seabird-related, good news for the endangered Western grey whales in the Sakhalin Island sea:

YUZHNO-SAKHALINSK, Russia, March 31, 2005 (ENS) - Sakhalin Energy has
decided to reroute offshore pipelines in its oil and gas development in
the Russian Far East to help protect the last population of critically
endangered Western gray whales. Only 100 whales of this species remain.
The pipelines off Sakhalin Island in the Sea of Okhotsk link two
production platforms in the Piltun-Astokhskoye gas field to the shore.=20


India to Ban Vulture Toxic, Pakistan, Nepal Urged to Follow

LONDON, UK, March 29, 2005 (ENS) - A worldwide coalition of bird conservation groups today appealed to the governments of Pakistan and Nepal to ban the use of a veterinary drug that has caused the population crash of three species of vulture in southern Asia. The decline of the three vultures is thought to be the most rapid decline of any species of bird, even faster than that of the dodo before its extinction.
In early 2004, The U.S. based Peregrine Fund working in Pakistan found that a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac, was responsible for declines in white-rumped vultures in Pakistan.
Work by the Bombay Natural History Society, the UK's Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the Zoological Society of London and others extended this work to show diclofenac as the major cause of declines in the vulture declines right across South Asia.

Diclofenac, widely sold over the counter in southern Asia for use as a livestock treatment, is toxic to vultures when the birds feed on the carcasses of treated cattle. The drug causes fatal kidney failure in the vultures.
The coalition of 100 bird conservation groups is asking Pakistan and Nepal to follow the lead of the Indian government in banning the use of diclofenac.

At a board meeting of the Indian government's National Board for Wildlife on March 17, a decision was taken to phase out the use of diclofenac for veterinary use within the next six months. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has endorsed the board’s recommendation.
Chris Bowden, the RSPB’s vulture-programme manager, said, “The Indian government is to be congratulated on taking this huge step that we have working towards ever since the discovery that diclofenac was such an acute problem."

The three vultures are already regionally extinct in several parts of southern Asia, and the conservation organization BirdLife International, represented in the UK by the RSPB, says that without further action from other countries where the birds remain, further extinctions are inevitable in the near future.
“The decline of vultures in southern Asia is one of the most troubling declines of any group of birds in the world," Bowden said. "We recognize the boldness of the Indian government in phasing out the veterinary use of this drug, but without futher action the three species of vulture are still in severe trouble.”

Populations of the white-rumped vulture, long-billed vulture and slender-billed vulture, declined by more than 90 percent between 1992 and 2000.

On the basis of their catastrophic declines, the IUCN-World Conservation Union has listed these species as critically endangered: the highest level of threat.
But declines have continued, and Indian national surveys carried out between 2000 and 2003 indicate annual decline rates of 22 percent for the long-billed vulture and 48 percent for the white backed vulture.
If these rates of decline continue, the three vulture species are heading for rapid extinction in India.

Asad Rahmani, director of Bombay Natural History Society, the RSPB’s partner in India, said, “In taking the decision to phase out diclofenac, our Prime Minister Mr Manmohan Singh has taken the most important step yet to save these fast-disappearing species of vultures. I request the governments of neighboring countries to ban this drug from veterinary use."
There is concern that even with a ban in six months, stockpiles of diclofenac will be administered until they are exhausted.
Dr. Debbie Pain, head of international research at the RSPB, said, “We recognize the need for an alternative livestock treatment to be found as soon as possible. Initial trials conducted in South Africa have revealed hope that a drug already available on the Indian market may well be a viable alternative to diclofenac and of comparatively low toxicity to vultures.”

Since diclofenac was identified as the cause of vulture declines, the RSPB has been working with the University of Pretoria, South Africa, and others to identify potential alternatives to diclofenac, that would be relatively safe to vultures. A possible alternative has been identified and safety testing is underway. While not yet conclusive, results are promising and trials will be completed this summer," Dr. Pain said.

Conservationists want to bring vultures into captivity as rapidly as possible to establish conservation breeding populations. Birds should them be released back into the wild when vulture populations are breeding and the environment is effectively free from diclofenac.
"The battle to save the vultures is not yet over," said Rahmani. "We have to develop conservation breeding centers as a further safeguard to save these magnificent lords of the sky.”

 Quote of Note
"We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect."
-- Aldo Leopold, American environmentalist and author

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2005. All Rights Reserved.

funny column about seagulls from BrocktonMass.com:
And So It Goes by Jason Love
As someone who lives near the beach, I feel qualified to make the following observation: Seagulls are evil. No, you say. Not seagulls. Yes, seagulls. They dig through your garbage, dump on everything they see, serve only themselves -- they are the lawyers of marine vertebrates.

Seagulls are barely bright enough to avoid large buildings and so unattractive that when they mate, they think of pelicans. So it goes. ...:::snip:::

Spring continues its up-down weather ways, 03/29/05


Fortunately, Mote Marine Laboratory said the red tide outbreak that has plagued the coast in recent months has now retreated to an area offshore from Sarasota Bay to Tampa Bay. Red tide was not found in recent samplings of water off Charlotte Harbor.
The current outbreak has irritated beachgoers and killed 41 manatees. Two pelicans died last week from red tide, Mote reported.


Spring on the Illinois River
Wild Things, Sunday, March 27, 2005
Pelicans on the river
White pelicans have been arriving along the Illinois River. On Tuesday, birdwatchers spotted a flock of 400 near Bureau. Pelicans have also been sighted near Henry and at Starved Rock State Park.
Flocks of the big white birds are now a common sight each spring and fall as they migrate through Illinois



Red tide kills 43 manatees; official says 'it's not over'
SCOTT RADWAY, Herald Staff Writer,
Posted on Sat, Mar. 26, 2005
MANATEE - Three weeks after the first dead manatee was found, the number of endangered marine mammals believed killed by a lingering red tide in southwest Florida has reached 43.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission on Friday collected the 42nd and 43rd dead manatees, both from the Caloosahatchee River.

"It is not over, from what we are seeing," said Allison Bozarth of the commission. "We can't predict when it is going to stop."
Red tide is a naturally occurring bloom of algae in the Gulf that can be toxic to fish and marine mammals. Red tide also can cause respiratory irritation in people, affecting the quality of life for residents and curbing tourism.
Spanish records report red tides in the Gulf as far back as the 1500s, but scientists today are debating whether nutrient runoff from development, farming and phosphate mining is making red tides last longer and occur more frequently.
This year marks the fourth time in a decade that red tide has led to mass manatee deaths. In 1996, according to state data, 149 manatees died from red tide. The toll was 34 in 2002 and 96 in 2003.
Scientists fear the succession of red tide deaths could overstress an already struggling species.
The state weekly report released Friday shows red tide is offshore between Tampa Bay and Sarasota Bay. No positive counts were found south of Sarasota Bay.
Offshore samples though were not received this week, and dead fish were reported offshore of Fort Myers. Dead fish and two dead pelicans were also reported in lower Tampa Bay, the report said.
Mote Marine Laboratory staff scientist Michael Henry said the red tide appears to have become more patchy and lower in concentrations, though he added that change does not necessarily mean the red tide is waning.

Scott Radway, environmental reporter, can be reached at 708-7919 or at sradway@HeraldToday.com.

© 2005 Bradenton Herald and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

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Birds respond to spring
Special to the Star-Tribune, March 24
Spring has started and the birds are responding. A number of new arrivals have occurred in the past two weeks. A report from the area west of Douglas along the North Platte River indicates that sand hill cranes are arriving. There is also a report of one active bald eagle nest in that area.
A walk in Edness Kimball Wilkins State Park these days will produce between 15 and 20 species. In winter there will be only five or six. The first killdeer are being seen there now. Red-winged blackbirds are singing on territory and western meadowlarks are arriving in some numbers.
Song sparrows are also starting to sing. In the river look for great blue heron, northern pintail, redhead, common merganser, American widgeon and a few hooded mergansers.
One report from the north side of the river in this area finds eastern screech-owl. Great horned owls have nested and I would expect hatching any day now.
One Harlan's form of the red-tailed hawk has been seen in the park recently.
There are still five swans at the impoundment at Dave Johnston power plant. Four of these are trumpeter swans and one is a tundra swan. These birds have been present since early January.
There are also several American white pelicans here. These birds were also present in early January. It is unusual to find this species in winter in Wyoming.

Chris Michelson is a veteran bird watcher and board member of the Murie Audubon Society.

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Wildlife group releases endangered pelicans
By Rick Cousins, Correspondent,
Thursday, March 17, 2005 | Texas' Oldest Newspaper: Since 1842

SEABROOK — A seabird differs from a predatory crocodile, but try telling that to Dr. John Cashen.
Cashen, an engineer by training, is sporting an eye-catching, four-inch cut that runs across his cheek below his left ear.
The perpetrator was a brown pelican, which he was preparing for release back into the wild near the Kemah Bridge on Saturday.
Cashen got his start a few years ago on Galveston Island when his wife, Retta, signed up with the rescue group Wildlife Rehab and Education.
The Cashens ended up sharing housing with some 33 birds in their tiny, two-bedroom island apartment that year.
Cashen now lives in Brisbane, Australia, and is part of a wildlife rescue foundation headed by Steve Irwin, “The Crocodile Hunter.”
He admits brown pelicans are aggressive, messy, smelly, angry and generally ungrateful.
“It takes a special person to love a seabird,” he says. “But they are magnificent animals — plunge divers, an ability to admire.”
(Galveston County pelicans sound as though they are fiercer than California pelicans who rarely seem angry and no rehabber has been bitten (yet).
These half-dozen pelicans ended up in distress five weeks ago after cold coastal weather forced them north into freshwater areas where they became susceptible to internal parasites.
“We need to understand the parasites which would have killed them if they hadn’t been saved,” Cashen said.
Since then, volunteers and donors have contributed more than 1,000 pounds of fish to sustain them.
“Each bird can eat half its own weight in fish,” he said.
Sharon Schmalz, executive director of Wildlife Rehab and Education, organized the release of the now healthy birds.
“Many people have made donations because it was expensive to feed them,” she says. “And thanks to those who brought the birds in.”
Volunteer E.J. Rogers, who has brought in deer, raccoons, herons and owls, brought in three of the birds.
“These people always do whatever they can to save animals,” she said. “Animals are a large part of my heart.”
To Become A Rehabilitator
For details on becoming a licensed rehabilitator or a volunteer, or to get advice on stranded wildlife, contact Wildlife Rehab and Education at (281) 332-8319 or page (713) 279-1417.

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Thoughts of spring in Minnesota

Spot it! American White Pelican

BY JIM OLICHWIER, Pioneer Press, Posted on Sun, Mar. 13, 2005
With its large orange beak, the American white pelican is unmistakable. The giant white birds are making their way back through Minnesota en route to their summer breeding grounds. While some will continue north into Canada, others will stop in Minnesota, with a large colony settling on Marsh Lake.
Marsh Lake, part of the Lac Qui Parle Wildlife Management Area in southwestern Minnesota, is the largest of three pelican breeding grounds in Minnesota. The other two colonies are in Lake of the Woods and Faribault counties. The pelicans that live at Marsh Lake usually arrive in mid-April and begin breeding right away.
The birds prefer to build their nests on marshy islands in shallow lakes. When they build their nests, they fill a small depression in the ground with whatever materials are available, usually small sticks and pebbles. Both males and females take turns incubating the eggs.
Fish are a staple in the pelican's diet, which is supplemented by other shallow water creatures, such as salamanders and crayfish. Because they limit their fishing spots to shallow water, pelicans eat a lot of rough fish, such as carp and suckers.
When the birds go fishing, they cooperate as a team, lining up and moving the fish toward shore before scooping them up in the large expandable bills. Unlike brown pelicans, the American white pelican will not dive after its prey. When the fish are caught, the pelicans will tip their bills vertically to drain the water from their pouches before swallowing their meals whole.
Adult birds will regurgitate their food to feed their young until the youngsters are old enough to find food on their own.
American white pelicans can be found from the West Coast to the Mississippi River in the summer. In the fall, they migrate to warmer climates in Southern California, Mexico and the Gulf Coast.
Males and females have the same nearly all-white appearance. Typically silent, the birds will make grunting and croaking sounds on their nesting grounds.

© 2005 St. Paul Pioneer Press and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

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Pelicans hurt by winter storm set to be released

Once near death, pelicans set to fly
Seven birds harmed in cold snap will rejoin thousands of others that live wild on the coast
By DINA CAPPIELLO, March 11, 2005, Houston Chronicle

LEAGUE CITY - In her 22 years treating injured wildlife in balmy southeast Texas, Sharon Schmalz has rarely encountered frostbite. But this winter, after a rare storm dumped more than a foot of snow in parts of southern Brazoria County and Galveston, Schmalz received seven brown pelicans, riddled with parasites, and nearly starved to death. On parts of their beaks and feet she found the deadened black flesh that indicates biological freezer burn.

"Every year we see a lot of mortality in juvenile brown pelicans," said Schmalz, who founded the nonprofit organization Wildlife Rehab and Education more than two decades ago. "But a lot of them died this year because of the parasites and the cold — the fish (pelicans eat) went deeper."

Today, under the Texas 146 bridge in Seabrook, Schmalz will release the seven young pelicans back into the wild where they will join the thousands of others that make their home on the Texas coast.

In the early '70s, the species was nearly extinct in the region because of the pesticide DDT. But their numbers have rebounded, enough so that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering taking the species off the endangered species list.
"Their populations are definitely up, but I'm concerned about the parasites," said Schmalz, referring to the yearly die-off she observes in younger pelicans.

She nursed the seven pelicans back to health by first feeding them with a tube, and then feeding each four pounds of smelt a day.

On Friday, the seven birds huddled in the far corner of their cage intently watching Schmalz as she wheeled in their meal.
About 2 feet tall, they waddled over to the bucket, grabbing fish in their pouchy beaks. The lumps of food slid down their slender throats.
The pelicans' trouble this winter followed reports of a dozen dead birds along the coast in the fall.
"There was a number of dead of pelicans reported ... but we were not able to determine the cause," said Brent Ortego, a wildlife diversity biologist. "This was very unusual."
Ortego said that an event such as a snowstorm could put the pelicans under increased stress, making them more susceptible to disease and parasites they carry naturally.
Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle -- http://www.HoustonChronicle.com 
This article is: http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory.mpl/metropolitan/3081357

Albatross species near extinction 

World Fisheries Managers Let Seabirds Perish on Longlines
CAMBRIDGE, UK, March 9, 2005 (ENS) - The first review ranking the environmental performance of the world’s 19 intergovernmental Regional Fisheries Management Organizations finds that that most are failing to safeguard albatrosses, and the seabird populations are headed for extinction as a result.
The review by BirdLife International discovered that three of the 16 active regional organizations do little to prevent the slaughter of the world’s albatrosses in longline fisheries.
More than 300,000 seabirds, including 100,000 albatrosses, and thousands of marine mammals and turtles are killed by both legal and illegal longline fishing fleets every year.


BirdLife says these organizations are doing "little or nothing to reduce the bycatch of seabirds, sharks and turtles in their fisheries, while at the same time many of their fish stocks have declined by more than 90 percent."
“These organizations have a legal and moral obligation to force the fisheries they govern to reduce this wildlife toll,” said BirdLife’s International Marine Policy Officer Dr. Cleo Small.
“But they are only as strong as the political will of the countries making them up," said Small. "Maximizing fish catches for export is still the top priority for many member countries, an approach which has left fish stocks and other marine species decimated with dire consequences for marine ecosystems and local fishing communities.”


The seabird conservation community was encouraged by the remarks of HRH The Prince of Wales, speaking at the Taiaroa Head Royal Albatross colony in Dunedin, New Zealand Sunday.
Prince Charles made a heartfelt plea for governments and the fishing industry to adopt the use of seabird bycatch mitigation measures and establish more "no-take" marine parks or reserves.
"Like many other one-time mariners I have a very special affection for the albatross," the Prince said.
"Only the other day there was further evidence of the mystery and majesty of these birds when a satellite-tagging research project proved what we have long suspected - that some quite literally circumnavigate the globe and the fastest does it in just 46 days."
"I find it hard - no, impossible - to accept that these birds might one day be lost for ever. Yet that does now seem to be a real possibility unless we, and others around the world, can make a sufficient fuss to prevent it," said the Prince.
"Nineteen of the 21 species of albatross are now under global threat of extinction, with some species now numbering under 100 individuals."
"The technology is simple, inexpensive and very effective," Prince Charles explained. "What is required are bird scaring lines which keep birds away from hooks during line setting; line weighting to sink hooks more quickly making them inaccessible to birds; fishing at night when most seabirds are less active; and ensuring that offal is not discharged while lines are fed out."
"Careful monitoring has proved beyond any doubt that using the right combination of these measures reduces the seabird by-catch to virtually zero. This is not rocket science," he said, "just good basic fisheries management."
Concerning seabird bycatch mitigation measures Prince Charles said, “The real challenge is to make these solutions mandatory on every longline vessel, not just some.”
Currently, there is no uniform global requirement that fishing vessels use equipment that will keep seabirds safe, only a confusing patchwork of regulations.


The BirdLife review observes that populations of albatrosses, dolphins, sharks and turtles have plummeted, partly because many of the 19 Regional Fisheries Management Organizations governing the world’s seas are ignoring international laws requiring action to safeguard marine wildlife and tackle pirate fishing.
Longline fishing is deadly to seabirds, including albatrosses. A longline is made up of a main line with numerous branchlines ending in baited hooks. Longlines can be more than 80 miles (130 km) long and carry up to 10,000 hooks.
As the baited line is set behind the longline vessel, it floats on the sea surface before sinking. Seabirds – especially albatrosses and petrels – are attracted to the bait and accidentally hooked as bycatch as they attempt to swallow it. The ensnared birds are then dragged under and drowned as the fishing line sinks.
Albatrosses are being killed faster than they can re-populate, BirdLife says. The proportion of albatross species threatened with extinction increased from one-third to 19 out of the 21 albatross species between 1994 and 2004.

Albatrosses mate for life, the larger species usually producing one chick just once every two years. They may be up to 15 years old before they breed and have a lifespan of at least 50 years. But now, says BirdLife, most albatrosses are dying long before they reach that age.

Prince Charles said that to him, "the albatross may be the ultimate test of whether or not, as a species ourselves, we are serious about conservation: capable of co-existing on this planet with other species."

<http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/mar2005/2005-03-09-02.asp> March 11, 2005

See also:< http://www.antarctica.ac.uk/News_and_Information/Press_Releases/story.php?id=156>
Albatross study provides new information vital to their conservation
No: 01/2005   13 Jan 2005
Albatrosses are the world's most threatened family of birds. New research offers the first hope of identifying migration and feeding patterns to reduce their unnecessary slaughter by long-line fisheries. The study is reported in the journal Science, and outlines, for the first time, the year-round habitat of the grey-headed albatross. :::snip:::

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Spring comes early to Florida and with spring, hooked pelicans; here's good advice on what to do!

The feathered fisher: brown pelicans

By Captain Will Geraghty, 03/09/2005, Naples Sun Times

Diving on a school of bait with reckless abandon or lined up like a choir underneath a fillet table, brown pelicans are a familiar daily sight to anglers, boat captains and onlookers of Southwest Florida.
As the fishing season progresses into spring and the water heats up, bait will start to pour into the region, followed by ravenous schools of Spanish mackerel, kingfish snook and jack crevalle, just to name a few.
It is a sure bet that wherever there is surface activity the brown pelican will be a part of the mix. As anglers cast to fish and pelicans dive, the unfortunate entanglement of these great feathered fishermen is bound to happen.
In the angling situation, we must constantly remind ourselves that the pelicans are there for the same reason that we are, to catch fish! When a pelican is hooked it is imperative to not cut the line.
Whether fishing from the Naples Pier, boat or shoreline, it is our duty as responsible anglers to ensure that proper care is taken to remove our hooks and line as well as that of others from the injured birds.

All measures should be taken to remove the hook and trailing line. Lines as short as 10 inches will entrap the bird in the mangroves and the pelican will ultimately starve to death.
Awareness is important and something that The Conservancy of Southwest Florida's Wildlife Animal Rehabilitation Center is trying to convey to the public.
An average of six injured pelicans arrive at the center each week, according to Wildlife Rehabilitation Specialist Rebecca LeBlanc. " The problem will only get worse as our population grows," she said.
However, there are several ways for us to help out with this growing problem and make the environment of the brown pelican a little safer.

LeBlanc recommends a simple procedure when dealing with a hooked or injured pelican. After easing the hooked bird to the boat or carefully netting an injured bird gently grab the bird by the beak and secure it's wings.
"Once secure you can hold the bird like a football," said LeBlanc. It is important to note that placing a towel over the bird's eyes will relax the bird allowing easy extraction of the hook and line. Also keep in mind that all birds' breathe through their beaks so place a hand high on the bill and use your fingers to prop open the beak.

Hook extraction is quite easy. Simply push the hook through the flesh until the barb is visible. Using wire cutters or pliers, cut behind the barb and the head of the hook then back the hook out.
After inspecting the bird for other hooks or injuries, release the bird.
LeBlanc urges the public, "Don't feed the pelicans!" The practice of feeding the pelicans bait, unwanted fish and fillet fish exposes the birds to many dangers.
Pelicans who eat fish bones of fillet fish can wind up with internal injuries such as punctured stomach linings which allows fluid to drip into the bird's body cavity causing peritonitis. Once this infection starts, death follows within 48 hours.
Most of the fish caught by area anglers are spiny with many fins. If filleting fish around pelicans, it is a great idea to cut the fillet fish carcasses into smaller pieces for easy digestion. Or a better idea is to not feed them at all.
The practice of feeding pelicans can create a nuisance situation. Unfortunately not everyone appreciates these birds and if considered a nuisance, humans can become irritated and do harm to the birds.
There are other benefits to not feeding pelicans. By not relying on our handouts, pelicans will learn to be self-sufficient finding food on their own and teaching their young to do the same.

Sometimes a situation arises where a pelican is too sick or injured to be released. Bring the bird to the center for treatment. The staff urges no one to go beyond their limits of training to medically care for the birds and if transportation cannot be arranged, they will pick up the bird only if it is caught and contained.
"Release of injured or sick pelicans treated at the center is greater than 40 percent," said Leblanc. The number is encouraging and is certainly an incentive to do all we can to help but there is an economic impact to caring for the injured pelicans.
An average stay for a pelican at the not-for-profit center costs around $130 with specialized medicines, food and man-hours which are all needed in the rehabilitation process.
Located at 1450 Merrihue Drive, The Conservancy of Southwest Florida Wildlife Rehabilitation Center is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. with a 24 hour drop-off box.
When dropping off an injured bird or animal, the center gladly accepts donations to off set the treatment costs as the center is always at or near capacity. Three full time employees, five interns and 50 volunteers staff the center.
Exciting things are happening at the center. The staff is in the planning stages of a program to educate the public on the hazards that pelicans face each day. This program will include informational signage and literature posted at various marinas and parks through out the county.
For more information on injured or sick wildlife, or how to help with the pelican public awareness program call the center at 262-CARE(2273)
Light Winds and Good Tides,
Capt. Will
Capt. Will Geraghty is an International Game Fish Association certified guide and owns and operates a complete guide service docked at Brookside Marina in Naples. Specializing in both inshore and offshore light tackle sportfishing, Capt. Geraghty offers trips aboard "The Grand Slam" a custom 25 foot Privateer. Contact him at grandslmcharter@aol.com or call 793-0969. ©Naples Sun Times 2005


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Authorities puzzled by oil-covered birds

Associated Press, Posted on Thu, Mar. 03, 2005
GALVESTON, Texas - More than a dozen pelicans turned up at a Galveston pier covered in oil, but baffled authorities said no spills were reported anywhere nearby.
Winston Denton, a regional biologist with the Coastal Fisheries Division of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department said some of the birds discovered Wednesday had oil covering most of their bodies but could still fly.
"It was a mixture of white and brown pelicans with varying degrees of oiling," Denton said.
The birds' health was at risk.
"The ones that have a significant amount of oil on them are at risk of suffering from exposure to the weather," Denton said. "The oil interferes with the waterproofing on their feathers, and that puts them at risk to hypothermia. They're probably ingesting some of the oil as well."
Investigators with the Texas General Land Office said Wednesday that they were unsure where the birds might have had contact with oil. Officials were trying to catch the birds and clean them up.
Information from: The Galveston County Daily News, http://www.galvnews.com


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Living with drought — Signs point to global warming
By Casey Santee - Idaho State Journal Writer, February 19, 2005
INKOM - Longtime farmer John McNabb switched from growing spring wheat to alfalfa a few years ago because alfalfa's longer roots require less water.
Looking back to when he started farming in the mid-1950s,
McNabb said there's just not as much snow as there used to be, but he isn't particularly worried.
"You've got to have strong faith to be a farmer,"McNabb said. "You can listen to all the forecasts you want, but they don't mean much."
And while experts are divided about the causes of the ongoing five-year drought and the general warming trend that has accompanied it, there is no question that farmers and wildlife are being forced to adjust to the changing climate.
Dick Scully, regional fishery manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, said the protected Yellowstone cutthroat trout that spawn in the tributaries of the Blackfoot River above the reservoir have declined rapidly in recent years. In 2001, biologists counted 4,747 pre-spawning cutthroat making their way up the river. By 2004, with the reservoir down 13 feet, that number had fallen to 120.
Conversely, the number of white pelicans there dramatically increased from less than 300 in 1993 to about 1,700 last summer.
The reason - the pelicans are eating the trout along a three-mile shallow section of the river that in years of normal precipitation would be deep enough to protect the fish.
"The pelicans are taking advantage of the drought conditions,"Scully said. "They work together in groups to move the fish into the shallows and then they scoop them up."
Of the 120 cutthroat that survived the swim, 70 percent had beak wounds.
Scully said fish populations in other reservoirs, such as Chesterfield, are also being impacted by the drought.
"Chesterfield was the most widely used fishery in southeast Idaho,"he said. "But because it's practically empty, for the past three years we haven't even bothered to stock it."
Bannock County Commissioner Jim Guthrie offers a philosophical perspective on the drought.
"Lifestyle changes are taking place,"Guthrie said. "Some farmers will have to sell their farms. Others will adapt."
But Guthrie said other generations have endured drought. He said the good thing about it is that it forces people to come together in a common cause.
"One of the comforting things about it, in a strange way, is you can't do anything about it. The water situation is going to be what it is. I've known a lot of farmers and I can tell you this, they are more optimistic than football coaches."
McNabb isn't losing any sleep over the situation. He will harvest what grows in his fields and make another go of it next year.
"I think all the scientists would do better to just get down on their knees and pray,"McNabb said.


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Sad goodbye to a winter visitor
A lost pelican that had delighted neighbors of Winnapaug Pond fails to survive the season's chill.

01:21 AM EST on Saturday, February 19, 2005
BY KATIE MULVANEY, Journal Staff Writer
WESTERLY -- It soared, it swam, it preened its feathers on the shores of Winnapaug Pond. But sadly, the American white pelican that delighted so many during these dark winter months has died.
The body of the great white bird was found last week, near a spring at the edge of the cove, according to Donald Friend, who used to watch the fair-weather visitor from the window of his Brightman Way home.
Friend, 86, learned of the bird's death Tuesday, and, like others, was saddened by the news. "I thought it was wonderful. I didn't see it fly, but that was probably the greatest sight of all," he said.
The pelican was first seen at the pond Dec. 29. A fierce cold snap and a blizzard have hit the region since it was last seen Jan. 21. The pond has been frozen solid for much of the time.
The bird's carcass has been turned over to University of Rhode Island Prof. Robert Kenney, who is keeping it in a freezer at the Bay Campus. He hopes to put it to academic use.
Kenney, a marine-mammal scientist and expert birder, has not closely inspected the pelican, but speculates that it died of starvation. "Once the pond froze over, there was no way for it to get food," he said.
A scavenger dragged and chewed the bird's midsection a bit, he said.
American white pelicans breed as far north as central Canada during summer. In winter, they migrate south to the Gulf Coast, and are rarely seen north of Florida.
Wildlife officials believe that a storm blew the pelican off course during its migration south, and that it picked the protected cove to rest and refuel.
For a few weeks, it appeared to gain strength. It ate baitfish, flew, and preened itself on a spit of land jutting into the pond. Then it vanished.
Wildlife officials elected to let nature take its course, said Janis Nepshinsky, outreach specialist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The regional office of migratory birds instructed her to rescue only injured birds.
"It's normal for a bird to get thrown off course," she said. Often, they get back on track.
American white pelicans, Pelecanus erythroryhnchos, have been sighted nine times in Rhode Island since 1900, according to the Audubon Society of Rhode Island.

http://www.projo.com/news/content/projo_20050219_wpel19.229209a.html for a file photo.

(see January 4, 2005, Pelican News for the first hopeful story on this lost bird.)

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Australia: pelicans out of control or people out of control?....
Thu, Feb 17, 2005 — Letters, bordermail.com.au

People and Pete could live happily ever after if....

Mrs Bamford with one of the pelicans removed last week.

 FIRSTLY I would like to thank Mr and Mrs Ortis for voicing their opinion but unfortunately its too late for the two pelicans that have been removed, one of which is Pete the Pelican with the yellow tag 222, he was last years hatchling from Adelaide Zoo.
He was taken to Wonga Wetlands and then to oz.e. Wildlife Sanctuary where he was fed fresh fish daily but soon returned to Sumsion Gardens to be with his mates.
Quite a few people have been involved in helping overcome a few injuries he has sustained.
Now the poor fella has been yet again taken away.
I can nearly bet all of those so-called attacks were when they were actually hand-feeding them.
I can also understand the innocent people just enjoying getting so close to such a big beautiful bird and innocently feeding them without thinking of the consequences that lay ahead.
I think we all need to ask ourselves do we want to have the wildlife and a place where we can go and enjoy watching our native wildlife, or do we want an empty lake to stare at?
I know what Id rather and I think you all do to.
I had contacted Lance Ferris from Australian Seabird Rescue Inc and he specialises in pelicans, and he has rescued 691 pelicans to date.
After more than 12 years of study and rescues, he has viewed 20,000 at close range.
Lance also gave me some helpful information to give the council to help humans and pelicans live together happily and that information was handed to them in October last year.
Nothing was followed from this, thus leaving this situation where it is today.

It all comes down to public awareness and educating people that if everyone keeps feeding the birds, and that not only goes for pelicans but all birds, this is what will happen.
The signage needs to be more visible to all the popular feeding areas.

As I discussed with Mr Mark Verbaken on Friday morning, most people dont even know there is signage.
What happened on Friday is only a short-term fix.
Whats going to happen if Pete comes home?
At least I hope if anything comes out of this is that our wonderful wildlife needs to be wildlife and get their own food and not eat chicken carcasses, hot chips, potato cakes.
I dont need to have my picture in The Border Mail chasing pelicans again.

Thu, Feb 17, 2005 Lunch turned into nightmare
ONLY some months ago as a treat, I took my three young children to Sumsion Gardens for a picnic lunch.
With three excited, young children, we got out of the car and were immediately swooned upon by these so-called friendly pelicans.
We did not even make it from the car to the play equipment before these vicious pelicans took the bags of picnic food out of my hands, ripping into them like savages.
With three screaming children and no lunch to speak of, we were forced to leave.
At the time I did not think much as to why everyone was sitting in their car, eating their lunch and the park was deserted.
I now know why.
Friendly birds, I think not.
Just ask my three children, who cry every time they see a pelican.

Thu, Feb 17, 2005 Peace for the smaller birds
I THINK it was about time the pelicans were removed, now the rest of the bird life can have a bit of peace.
All too often I have witnessed unprovoked attacks on much smaller birds by the supposed good pelicans; also attacks on cyclists, children and the elderly.
My own little boy almost lost his eye one day because he was looking at the ducks and the pelicans came and attacked the ducks and then went for James.
Now tell me, and all the other little children that they have attacked and havent been reported it, that they are good little birds.
Mrs Prue Bamford should know in her vast experience dealing with the birds that they are just rogue birds and have no excuse for their behaviour.
I think 1000km wouldnt be out of the question.

Pelicans exiled from wetlands
Public urged not to feed wildlife at Wodongas Sumsion Gardens

Sat, Feb 12, 2005, By BRAD WORRALL
TWO of the four pelicans at Wodongas Sumsion Gardens were forcibly removed yesterday amid fears the remaining birds might also have to leave.
An attack on a woman last Thursday has left wildlife officers and volunteers in a rage, not with the birds but with people that feed them.
The real culprits in the dramatic eviction were the people who continued to feed the birds in the city's popular water park Mrs Prue Bamford, of Wildlife Victoria said.
“This is just ridiculous,” she said.
“Do we have to relocate all the bird life from the park before people get the message dont feed the wildlife.
“Its like a revolving door we relocate the birds, new ones arrive and learn that people will feed them, they give up searching for food and then someone is bitten and we relocate that|lot.”
Council rangers said the two birds caught yesterday were the most aggressive in the park and responsible for the majority of attacks.
The fear is the remaining birds may also become dependent on picnickers fare and in time also become aggressive and therefore a risk to safety.
The captive pair was bound for either Lake Mokoan or Lake Nillahcootie but this was just a short-term fix Mrs Bamford said.
“Weve known birds to be moved 400km away and be back at the waterway in two days,” she said.
“There are signs telling people not to feed the birds but no one seems to take notice.
“Maybe we need bigger signs, maybe we just need to educate the public.”
Department of Sustainability and Environment wildlife officer Mr Leigh Murray said one of the two captive birds had been relocated before.
“This is a people problem and not the fault of the birds,” he said.
“The birds caught this morning regurgitated chips, chicken wings and even a dim sim.
“Something has to be done; we cant keep coming back to the gardens every few months to move the pelicans.”
There have been more than 20 reported attacks in the past 18 months, Wodonga councils manager of Health and Civic Services Mr Mark Verbaken said.
“This behaviour has been partly induced by people feeding them and thus warning signs have been installed,” Mr Verbaken said.
“We cant stress enough that visitors refrain from feeding the wildlife so that other animals in the gardens do not become aggressive as well.”


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Officials rule out oil seepage as killer of birds

February 6, 2005; LOS ANGELES (AP) -- State investigators have ruled out seepage from the ocean floor as the source of mysterious oil contamination that has killed nearly 1,300 birds along the Southern California coast in the worst such incident in 15 years. State environmental officials have been searching the coastline from Santa Barbara to Ventura for the source of the oil. Scientists had noted a recent increase in naturally occurring oil seepage from the ocean floor off Santa Barbara, but state investigators said Friday it was not the source of the oil found on the birds. Investigators are now examining abandoned wells, pipelines, production plants, runoff and other possible inland sources.

"It's on the ground, it's not an ocean thing," said Rob Hughes, a spokesman for the state Department of Fish and Game's office of spill prevention and response. "We can say there is no relationship between the seep oil and the oil that is on the birds."
The contamination is considered the worst in California since the American Trader oil tanker ran over its own anchor off the coast of Huntington Beach and spilled 400,000 gallons of Alaskan crude into the ocean in 1990.That spill killed about 1,000 birds and gummed up 15 miles of coastline for a month.

Most of the birds killed or injured in recent weeks are Western grebes, which live entirely on the water and build nests out of floating debris. They are slender black-and-white birds, usually about 2 feet long, with long necks and long, pointed bills.

Injured birds are being cared for at the Los Angeles Oiled Bird Care and Education Center in San Pedro.
In all, 1,513 birds, including 16 endangered brown pelicans, have been coated with oil from the mysterious leak, Hughes said. Of those, 1,272 died or were euthanized. Most of the surviving 241 birds have been cleaned and released.

Copyright 2005, Ventura County Star. All Rights Reserved.
URL: http://www.venturacountystar.com/vcs/state/article/0,1375,VCS_122_3527651,00.html


Bird-killing oil slicks aren't from natural seeps, state agency says

State oil-spill watchdogs say mysterious floating oil that has killed thousands of Southern California seabirds did not come from natural offshore seeps, such as those off Goleta.
Chemical analysis has shown that the oil found on dying birds has "no relation with oil that might be just seeping up in the channel," said Dana Michaels, a spokeswoman for the Office of Spill Prevention and Response.
The agency's chemists will continue comparing the oil with known sources in an attempt to find a match, she said.

If a specific source is found, the state could demand that those responsible help pay for the bird rescue effort. When the bills are all paid, that cost could reach $1.5 million, Ms. Michaels estimated. The oil-coated birds, chiefly Western grebes and some brown pelicans, began showing up on beaches from Goleta to Huntington Beach in January. Most were discovered near Ventura Harbor and farther east at Point Mugu.

More than 1,500 oil-coated birds were found and taken to a specialized recovery center in San Pedro, including dozens from Santa Barbara County. Of those, 315 died before reaching the facility. Another 952 died during treatment or were so sick that they had to be killed, officials said.
The worst appears to be over. The last day oil-coated birds were found and brought in was a week ago, Ms. Michaels said.

http://news.newspress.com/topsports/020505oilybirds.htm (subscription required for access)

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Biologists Planning to Study Pelicans at Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge
JAMES MacPHERSON, Associated Press; Posted on Fri, Feb. 04, 2005

BISMARCK, N.D. - Pelican nesting grounds will be off-limits to the public this year at a refuge in central North Dakota while biologists plan their most extensive study ever of the big birds.
Biologists still are baffled about why some 28,000 birds showed up to nest at the refuge in early April but took off in late May and early June, abandoning their chicks and eggs. The 4,385-acre Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge north of Medina had been the site of the largest nesting colony of white pelicans in North America.

Biologists are counting on the pelicans to return in April, as they have for at least a century.
"We believe they'll be back and stay and nest successfully," said Kim Hanson, the project leader for the Arrowwood complex, which includes Arrowwood and Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuges.
Refuge managers had issued several special permits each year to allow people to get up close to the nesting grounds, but not this year, Hanson said.

Biologists received $70,000 in federal money to buy electronic tracking equipment that will be harnessed to about 15 pelicans, said Pam Pietz, a biologist at the with the U.S. Geological Survey's Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center in Jamestown.

More money is being sought for long-range video surveillance cameras and extra crews to monitor the pelicans this year, Pietz said. Ken Torkelson, a spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Bismarck, said the long-range monitoring will not disturb the pelicans. "It will be done at a safe distance to allow them to do what they do," Torkelson said. "We may never have the answers on why they left last year, but at least we'll have more information than we had in the past."

Biologists checked air, water and soil quality at the site. They have also checked for diseases, food supply, predators and other possible factors to solve the mystery of why the pelicans abandoned their chicks and eggs.

"We're kind of shooting in the dark - it's up in the air," said Marsha Sovada, a biologist at the research center in Jamestown. "We aren't going to outguess the pelicans," Pietz said.

Extraordinary sightings of pelicans were recorded in Minnesota and Wisconsin, but biologists say the counts were not scientific. "We just know they disappeared in the upper regions of the Great Plains," Sovada said.
The birds currently are in their winter grounds in Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas and Central America, Sovada said. Those areas have not reported smaller numbers of pelicans, she said.

The pelican exodus drew worldwide attention and biologists were hit with hundreds of e-mails, letters and phone calls from people who shared their ideas on why the birds left. The theories ranged from cell phone tower disturbances to impending shifts in the magnetic poles.
"I don't want to ridicule anyone's theory. Who knows?" Torkelson said. "We're definitely thankful that people have taken this much interest in it."

© 2005 AP Wire and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.


Ailing pelicans making progress
signonSanDiego.com, by the Union Tribune, February 2, 2005

Fifteen pelicans affected by an oil spill in the Santa Barbara Channel last month have been nursed back to health at SeaWorld San Diego and returned to a bird rehabilitation center in Los Angeles County.
Officials at the Oiled Bird Care and Education Center in San Pedro, which transported the pelicans to SeaWorld in January because it was overwhelmed by the problem, released seven of the pelicans into the wild Monday and kept the remaining to complete their recovery.
More than 1,500 sea birds affected by the spill, which is still being investigated, came ashore between Santa Barbara and Huntington Beach.


Scientists report sharp rise in ocean oil, gas seepage
By Chuck Schultz, Santa Barbara News-Press staff writer

With experts still baffled about the source of spilled oil that has killed more than 1,260 seabirds along Southern California, UCSB scientists said they also are seeing much more oil and natural gas bubbling to the ocean's surface near Isla Vista since the recent storms.

The seepage now occurring off Coal Oil Point is the most since university scientists began studying that seep field in 1994, said Ira Leifer, a research scientist at UCSB's Marine Science Institute. Normally, about 4,200 gallons of oil oozes to the surface daily in that 6-mile-by-3-mile area, but the amount now is "easily more than double that," he noted.

Surveys by boat revealed new areas of seepage, too, and scientists are studying whether there is a link between the recent storm activity and the increased oil discharge. "There's a lot more oil," Mr. Leifer said, but specific estimates haven't yet been made. "It's going somewhere. We don't know where it's going, but we're looking into it."

State investigators and scientists initially suspected increased activity from natural seeps might be the reason large numbers of oil-coated birds, mostly Western grebes, recently began turning up on beaches from Goleta to Huntington Beach. However, laboratory tests revealed the oil in those birds feathers didn't have the same characteristics as that from subsea seeps, officials said last week.

http://news.newspress.com/topsports/020105birds.htm (requires a subscription)

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Long way from normal winter home sightings:

January 31 reports from Mary Powell-McConnell; Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, curator, Mammalogy and ornithology

Click here for RECENT 2006, pelican news

Click here for November-December, 2005 Pelican News (with links at the bottom of the page to the rest of 2005.)

Click here for December, 2004, pelican news (with links at the bottom of the page to the rest of 2004.)

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