way from normal-winter-home sightings; California
oil spill (January News page)
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
not directly seabird-related, good news for the endangered
Western grey whales in the Sakhalin Island sea:
SAKHALIN ENERGY WILL RELOCATE PIPELINES TO AVOID
YUZHNO-SAKHALINSK, Russia, March 31, 2005 (ENS) - Sakhalin
decided to reroute offshore pipelines in its oil and gas
the Russian Far East to help protect the last population
endangered Western gray whales. Only 100 whales of this
The pipelines off Sakhalin Island in the Sea of Okhotsk
production platforms in the Piltun-Astokhskoye gas field
to the shore.=20
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
“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
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
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.
are barely bright enough to avoid large buildings and so
unattractive that when they mate, they think of pelicans.
So it goes. ...:::snip:::
continues its up-down weather ways, 03/29/05
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
The current outbreak has irritated beachgoers and killed
41 manatees. Two pelicans died last week from red tide,
on the Illinois River
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
tide kills 43 manatees; official says 'it's not over'
SCOTT RADWAY, Herald Staff Writer,
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
"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
respond to spring
By CHRIS MICHELSON
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.
group releases endangered pelicans
By Rick Cousins, Correspondent,
Thursday, March 17, 2005 | Texas' Oldest Newspaper: Since
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
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
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
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,”
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.
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
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
Adult birds will regurgitate their food to feed their young
until the youngsters are old enough to find food on their
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
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
hurt by winter storm set to be released
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
"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
On Friday, the seven birds huddled in the far corner of
their cage intently watching Schmalz as she wheeled in their
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
species near extinction
World Fisheries Managers Let Seabirds Perish on Longlines
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
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.
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
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
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
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."
March 11, 2005
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:::
Spring comes early to Florida and with spring, hooked
pelicans; here's good advice on what to do!
feathered fisher: brown pelicans
Will Geraghty, 03/09/2005, Naples Sun Times
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
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
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
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
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 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 email@example.com
or call 793-0969. ©Naples Sun Times 2005
puzzled by oil-covered birds
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
Information from: The Galveston County Daily News, http://www.galvnews.com
with drought — Signs point to global warming
By Casey Santee - Idaho State Journal Writer, February 19,
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
Of the 120 cutthroat that survived the swim, 70 percent had
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
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
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
McNabb isn't losing any sleep over the situation. He will
harvest what grows in his fields and make another go of it
"I think all the scientists would do better to just get
down on their knees and pray,"McNabb said.
Sad goodbye to a winter visitor
A lost pelican that had delighted neighbors of Winnapaug
Pond fails to survive the season's chill.
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
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,
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.
for a file photo.
January 4, 2005, Pelican News for the first hopeful story
on this lost bird.)
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
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
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
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
The signage needs to be more visible to all the popular
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,
I dont need to have my picture in The Border Mail chasing
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
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
I now know why.
Friendly birds, I think not.
Just ask my three children, who cry every time they see
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.
exiled from wetlands
Public urged not to feed wildlife at Wodongas Sumsion Gardens
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
“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
“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.”
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
"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
Copyright 2005, Ventura County Star. All Rights Reserved.
oil slicks aren't from natural seeps, state agency says
2/5/05 — By MORGAN GREEN, NEWS-PRESS STAFF WRITER
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
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
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.
(subscription required for access)
Planning to Study Pelicans at Chase Lake National Wildlife
JAMES MacPHERSON, Associated Press; Posted on Fri, Feb.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
(requires a subscription)
way from normal winter home sightings:
31 reports from Mary Powell-McConnell; Arizona-Sonora
Desert Museum, curator, Mammalogy and ornithology
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