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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 are also occasional news of other endangered bird species and threats to seabirds, especially, but also to other birds, worldwide: see: pelicanlife's NEW wildlife news page. The hope is to draw support for the Santa Barbara pelicans: by appreciating pelicans and other threatened and vulnerable birds, we can appreciate and support even more those rescued California Brown Pelicans, 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.


August, September, October 2005

A new Wildlife News page!!!

Reward offered for info about California Brown Pelican mutilation

2004-5 Archives | Botulism and red tide | Breton Island NWR oil spill survivors | Brown Pelican in Iowa | Chase Lake NWR visit | Chase Lake pelicans, 2 | | Katrina and Gulfport pelicans | Katrina and Lake Pontchartrain pelicans | Katrina and barrier islands | | Katrina and NOLA | Nebraska | NM, Socorro, pelican festival | Pelicans and Wilma | OK Salt Plains NWR pelican festival | Oregon pelicans | Pelican rookery in No. Carolina | Red tide, Florida | Red tide and FL shorebirds | West Nile Virus hits Nevada pelicans | Wilma and pelicans | Wisconsin, Horicon NWR botuli

Not all were able to flee (see story from Naples.)
People of Everglades survive, but many birds died
By Rochelle E.B. Gilken; Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 29, 2005
EVERGLADES CITY — In New Orleans, he counted dead bodies as a volunteer airboat captain.
Here, in his hurricane-hit back yard, it is the dead birds that disturb Eddie Rewis.
"I don't know what happened. The birds can usually predict it," Rewis, 42, said. "It's sad. They went in the trees to roost, and I think they got caught off-guard."
Thousands of them — including white egrets, blue herons, ibises and pelicans — were torn from the trees where they nest and sleep and then smashed against miles of mangrove trees
along County Road 29, a causeway between Everglades City and Chokoloskee.
Piles of timber and mud and leaves became a graveyard of snapped necks and soaked wings where scorpions and snakes slither.
Despite a lifetime of living in the Everglades, Rewis said, he's never seen birds die like that.
But the people here survived.
"That's a miracle right there," Rewis said.


Pelicans flee the Florida coast
October 23, NAPLES, Florida All along Florida's Gulf Coast, birds are high-tailing it away from Wilma.
Pelicans that normally gather around the historic pier in Naples have disappeared.
Resident Ben Pletsch says that also happened before other hurricanes. He says the birds "know when to get out of here."
Further south, wildlife experts in the Florida Keys noticed that pelicans there also made themselves scarce.
While the pelicans and other wildlife have left, surfers have flocked to the Naples beaches to enjoy the larger than usual waves being kicked up by Wilma.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press.


Thrill to the sight of a pelican rookery visit during Wings Over Water
Imagine the thrill of seeing hundreds--perhaps thousands--of Brown pelicans, with their impressive 6.5 feet wingspans, close-up, and in their natural habitat.
A rare opportunity to visit a pelican rookery, in the middle of Pamlico Sound, is one of the experiences available to participants in the Nov. 1-6 Wings Over Water festival.

Captain Stuart Wescott will transport up to 49 passengers who opt for the Pelican Island Safari to Pelican Island as part of their Wings Over Water experience. The two-hour head boat trip will be held both Friday, Nov. 4, and Saturday, Nov. 5, to allow the maximum number of participants. If wind and water conditions are favorable, participants may disembark close to shore and wade in shallow water to walk on the island itself and get a closer view of the birds. A naturalist will accompany the tour.

Pelicans are colonial birds; that is, they nest in large groups, or colonies. The mother bird lays from 2-4 eggs in shallow nests that vary from seagrass-lined depressions on the sandy ground to twig nests in low shrubs. In other locations, pelicans roost and nest in larger trees, such as mangroves. Eggs hatch throughout the summer months, during which time the rookery is closed to visitors. While WOW participants will not see nesting birds, as all the eggs will have hatched and the fledglings left the nest, those who tour the island will be able to see the remnant nests as well as adult birds and yearlings. The Pelican Safari provides a unique opportunity for birders to examine nests and appreciate the overall size and ecosystem of the rookery.

Volunteers and staff with the Fish and Wildlife Service participate in a banding program each summer to help monitor the population. The brown pelican population crashed in the 1950s and 1960s as the pelicans' eggshells were affected by DDT; since the pesticide was banned in 1972, the population has rebounded on both the Atlantic and Pacific coast.
For more information, or to register for Wings Over Water, contact the Outer Banks Chamber of Commerce at 252-441-8144 or log on to the Wings Over Water website at http://www.wingsoverwater.org.



October 14, 2005
Gulf Coast update

NEW ORLEANS -- The manatees that grazed in Lake Pontchartrain before Hurricane Katrina haven't been seen since, but eight dolphins were leaping in the lake this week.
"If the big critters are back, the lake is definitely coming back," Carlton Dufrechou, executive director of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, said Thursday.
Flocks of pelicans and the pod of dolphins spotted Monday indicate that there are fish for them to eat, he said.


Oct 03, 2005, Dr. Tom Gross: Missing the little things after a catastrophe like Katrina
IN THE MIDDLE of catastrophe, we often become accustomed to the sights that we expect, such as uprooted trees and uprooted lives, to the extent that we can tune them out in order to function. Then, in a quiet moment, you noticed how widespread the catastrophe really is.
As dawn broke in New Orleans, several days after the hurricane, we were unpacking the crates and barrels that, in a matter of hours, would become a tent hospital, with an emergency department, an operating room, intensive care, a medical ward, and a supply tent. There would be no additional tents to sleep in for a few days.
Someone found a coffee pot, and brewed up a few gallons of something hot, whose aroma resembled coffee. It tasted like boiled water. It was good enough. I sat on an MRE crate, sipping my coffee, and eating an MRE cracker with some peanut butter on it. We called it "Breakfast of Champions."
Having seen a lot of dawns come and go, I noticed something different about this one. I had spilled some cracker crumbs on the ground, expecting a few birds to come up and fight over them. Turning to the surgeon next to me, who had helped me put up the tent and was enjoying his own Breakfast of Champions, I said, "J.D. there are no birds."
We looked at the roof line, and the remaining electrical wires. We looked out into the fields. There were no birds. It was as if every bird had been blown from Louisiana north to Wisconsin. The morning was quiet, no doves, no songbirds, and no pelicans.



Festival of the pelicans
Birds stop at refuge over next 2 weeks

Evelyn Cronce El Defensor Chieftain Reporter,
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
ECRONCE Sometime during the next two weeks would be a good time to visit the Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. The pelicans may not have their own festival, but it doesn't seem to bother them.
They once again have stopped by the Bosque Del Apache to rest and feed on their migration from Yellowstone or Canada to the east coast of Mexico. Each flock stops by for just a couple of days. They will be coming and going only for, approximately, the next two weeks.
According to Daniel Perry of the refuge, when all is said and done, they expect to have had a couple of hundred American White Pelicans stop over.
The pelicans seem to have an international appeal.
A busload of visitors from England traveling with Titan Tours were taking in the pelicans Monday afternoon as part of their New Mexico tour.
Stopping by at the same time are the Great Egrets and the Snowy Egrets. These birds can be seen standing in the shallows, not far from the pelicans, taking advantage of the fish stirred up by the pelicans' feeding.
These birds will also be gone at the end of summer on their way to winter in Mexico.

URL: http://www.dchieftain.com/news/54548-09-21-05.html


Pelicans of the Great Salt Plains

GREAT SALT PLAINS -- They come in numbers that sometimes exceed fifty thousand. They fish for a few weeks. Then they leave. We're not talking about tourists though. Here is the story of the American White Pelican and their annual visit to the great salt plains.
When the Black Eyed Susans are still stretching to the sunrise and just as the first, soft, cool breezes begin their push from the north, one of the biggest signals of the season's change descends gracefully into the shallow waters of Sand Creek.
“Some of these pelicans that are standing on the bay this late are probably the most recent arrivals that have migrated in. They are tired and resting a bit,” says U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologist Ron Shepperd.
He has watched and counted the American White Pelican for years at the Great Salt Plains. From early September until mid-October these huge birds, whose wingspans can sometimes approach ten feet, fish the shallow waters here on their way south.
“Oh a good majority of the month of September we'll have pelicans coming and going all the time,” Shepperd says.
He has counted as many as 70,000 pelicans on the reservoir. This year more than 35,000 have stopped over. This is a significant portion of the eastern population.

“They come from North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Colorado. They breed up there and head south now,” biologist Shepperd says.
They feed in huge circles, schooling their prey together then scooping them with a pouch that can hold three gallons of water at a time.
There are other shore birds that use Sand Creek and the Salt Plain. They are the Avocets, the Dowitchers, The Herons and more descend here until the first freeze.
The White Pelican is among the first, on its way to warmer climes it travels right through the heart of this shallow refuge.
At the Great Salt Plains I’m Galen Culver for NewsChannel 4. Is this a great state or what?
September 18th through the 24th is the annual pelican celebration at the Salt Plains National Refuge.

Sep 26, 2005, 11:28 AM' GALEN CULVER REPORTING; http://www.kfor.com/Global/story.asp?S=3899528&nav=6uy6

Visitors are encouraged to stop by the refuge headquarters for information or directions to viewing sites. The Shorebird Trail, located on Oklahoma 11, also will be a good spot to see shorebirds. There are no fees or permits required.
For additional information, contact Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge at (580) 626-4794.


Posted on Wed, Sep. 21, 2005

Gathering planned to talk about pelican abandonment
Associated Press
BISMARCK, N.D. - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is planning a gathering of pelican experts to try to solve the mystery of why the big birds abandoned the Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge in central North Dakota.
No date has been set, but the meeting would include biologists and officials from refuges throughout the Upper Midwest, said Ken Torkelson, a Fish and Wildlife spokesman in Bismarck.
Last year, nearly 30,000 pelicans left the refuge near Medina, leaving their chicks and eggs behind. This year, the refuge saw a massive die-off of pelican chicks, followed by an exodus of their parents.
"Next year may bring a whole new mystery," Torkelson said.
Wildlife officials plan to discuss the pelicans' exodus and develop a plan for funding to further study the big birds.
"There have not been the answers we've been looking for yet," Torkelson said.
Samples of dozens of dead pelicans from the refuge and from other parts of the Upper Midwest are being tested at the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wis. Torkelson said results are still pending.
About 200 pelicans remain in central North Dakota, but none are at Chase Lake, Torkelson said.
The white pelican colony at the 4,385-acre Chase Lake refuge has been the largest in North America, peaking at 35,466 birds in 2000.
Many of the big birds that left Chase Lake earlier this year probably headed to Canada, where extraordinary sightings were recorded, Torkelson said.
Pelicans typically leave Chase Lake in late September to their wintering grounds along the Gulf Coast.
"Most, if not nearly all, have migrated," Torkelson said. "They're headed toward hurricane country. Come next April, we'll know if they came back to nest."

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


Feathers flying over plans for bird nesting platform off Goleta
Associated Press, Posted on Tue, Sep. 20, 2005
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Workers on Tuesday will begin demolishing the remains of a crumbling 1930s oil pier that served as a perch for scores of pelicans and cormorants, and replacing it with roosting platforms that sit 40 feet above the ocean.
The platforms off Ellwood Beach, which BP America Inc. expects to complete by the end of October, will be the first such structures for roosting and nesting seabirds off California's coast.
Goleta officials, however, complain that the new, white platforms, which will sit on poles 16 feet higher than the old pier, will spoils views from the Sandpiper Golf Course, Bacara Resort & Spa and Haskell's Beach, a popular surfing spot.
"But there's not much the city can do about it now," Goleta Mayor Jean Blois said of the project, which the California Coastal Commission approved in February. "The perches are going to be ugly. Hopefully, we'll get used to them."
The state Fish and Game Department proposed the platforms in the hope that Brandt's cormorants and endangered California brown pelicans will quickly re-colonize the new structure once the pier is gone. The $4 to $5 million project, paid for by BP, also includes creating an artificial fish reef by blowing up the old concrete pier and seeding the debris with kelp.
Goleta and county officials also oppose the reef plan, saying it could set a precedent for leaving behind debris from dismantled structures.
Environmentalists are split over the project.
The Environmental Defense Center, a public-interest law firm, opposes it. But the Audubon Society and Santa Barbara Channelkeeper signed five-year contracts with BP to monitor the success of the bird platforms and the artificial reef, respectively.
"I understand the concerns about setting a precedent," said Paul Kelly, a Fish and Game seabird biologist. "On the other hand, there was a legal obligation to address the value of the migratory birds. We're very interested in seeing what sorts of benefits the new structure offers."
Biologists speculate that the old pier - dubbed Bird Island - provided the only safe, water-encircled roosting place along a 75-mile stretch of coastline.
Some people question whether birds will return to the site once the platforms are completed. No cormorants were documented at Bird Island until 1991, 40 years after oil production ceased there.
Kelly is optimistic.
"Birds from Anacapa (Island) could not feed in Santa Barbara and fly back without a stopover," he said. "We're hoping they'll come back."
The California Coastal Commission required that BP must dismantle the platforms if they remain unused for five years.
Information from: Santa Barbara News-Press, http://www.newspress.com See: SB News-Press, September 20, for an in depth story by reporter Melinda Burns. For online access, the N-P requires payment or subscription.


Posted on Fri, Sep. 16, 2005, By George Thatcher
Two dead, brown pelicans lie in my front yard in mute testimony to the hurricane's destructive force. In my back yard was a severely wounded pelican, barely alive when I found it only hours after the storm. Today it too is dead. Amid the intense suffering of friends, neighbors, and many others beyond my knowing, it seems crass for me to grieve for dead pelicans. Yet their loss is also significant, because they were part of our community, enriching our lives with their graceful flights. And not only for the three pelicans do we grieve, but also for the uncounted and unknown thousands of other shorebirds that the hurricane killed. -
From the diary of beach walker George Thatcher, a retired banker, of Gulfport.
E-mail: fishcrow@aol.com. Two volumes of Thatcher's work, "Beach Walks" and "Scenes from the Beach" are available in bookstores and gift shops or by calling (800) 343-1583.


Sep. 13, 2005 — HORICON, Wis. - Drought conditions are taking a toll on the Horicon Marsh, a favorite landing spot for tens of thousands of migrating Canada geese.
Dead carp litter small pools of water at the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge. Geese and white pelicans stand in shallow water that barely covers their webbed feet.

Refuge manager Patti Meyers said drought conditions this summer have contributed to a botulism outbreak because of the dead fish in the impoundment pools.
"We spent a lot of time out there last week trying to remove the fish, but there's not enough water out there for the airboats," said Meyers, adding that ideal water depths in the pools range from 12 to 18 inches.
"Some of the pools have but an inch of water left in them. Conditions have worsened over the weekend so it may be difficult to impossible to get out there (with the boat) again."
Earlier this summer, high temperatures and low water levels killed more than 1,200 ducks due to avian botulism. Refuge staff collected and buried the dead birds to keep the toxins from spreading.
"Once temperatures drop, the risk of botulism goes down. That coupled with a little rain and we should be all right," Meyers said.


How it was 50 years ago from September 9, 2005
News from Fremont, NE
The large crane-like birds which Ray W. Johnson of Big Island says are rare Whooping cranes were seen again Friday morning from the Johnson residence. First noticed Wednesday and seen by a Guide and Tribune reporter Thursday, four or five of the birds were feeding along the south bank of the Platte River opposite his home, Johnson said. Other Fremonters reported seeing large white birds near the Highway 77 bridge and on dikes south of the city. Conservation experts say the birds are more likely to be pelicans migrating south as it is rather early to see Whooping cranes in our area.


Lake Pontchartrain: Prepare To Die
Posted by RJ on September 06, 2005 09:48 PM (See all posts by RJ)

The brew of chemicals and human waste in the New Orleans floodwaters will have to be pumped into the Mississippi River or Lake Pontchartrain, raising the specter of an environmental disaster on the heels of Hurricane Katrina, experts say.
Mallett said the Department of Environmental Quality was in the unfortunate position of being responsible for protecting the environment in a situation where that did not seem possible.
“We’re not happy about it. But for the sake of civilization and lives, probably the best thing to do is pump the water out,” he said.
If the water is pumped into the Mississippi River, there will be a lot of damage to the river's ecosystem. And then the toxic water will quickly flow into the Gulf of Mexico, causing more damage.But the gulf is enormous, so the chemicals will eventually diffuse throughout the water, and will no longer be in such deadly concentrations.
Lake Pontchartrain, however, does not flow like a river directly into another body of water. It plays a game of give-and-take with the Gulf of Mexico, sometimes taking in the gulf's salt water, and sometimes releasing its own brackish water into the gulf. So, whatever poisons are pumped into Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans are likely to stay there in disturbingly large concentrations for a relatively long time.
And that is likely to kill just about every living thing in the lake.
Here is some information about the soon-to-be-dead fauna of Lake Pontchartrain:
The citizens of the Pontchartrain Basin have been trying to bring back wildlife not only in the water, but also in the air. For a while brown pelicans were almost extinct because a chemical being used to protect plants. When it would rain, nutrients and fertilizers would wash into the lake and make the water cloudy, which blocked sunlight. Fish ate or absorbed these chemicals through their skin and by eating food that the chemical had entered. The pelicans ate the fish, which killed the pelicans because of the chemical in the fish's bodies. We did our best to restore the pelicans and now they can be seen everywhere.

In Lake Pontchartrain there are over 125 species of fish. Out of all the fish, the most abundant species of fish is the anchovy. Even manatee and porpoise have been sited in the lake, but the porpoise die because of a bacterium that they get when swimming in the lake. Many sharks have been seen in the lake.
In the Lake Pontchartrain Basin there is a huge variety of marine, land and bird life. It includes animals from swallows to wild boar.
The Basin provides a habitat for a large variety of birds in Louisiana. Fifty percent of all North American migratory birds pass through Southeast Louisiana, yet vehicles kill twelve thousand a year. Twice a year there are an estimated eight million Purple Martins migrating through Southeast Louisiana.
This site <http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2002/of02-206/biology/elmr.html> even has a nice graph of the relative abundance of various forms of life in the lake.
I wish I could offer ya'll some good news on this subject, but there ain't any to be had, I'm afraid..


Going up river from New Orleans — N.M. Guardsmen Take River Tour
By Miguel Navrot, Journal Staff Writer, Wednesday, September 7, 2005
ABOARD A COAST GUARD RESPONSE BOAT ON THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER— For miles and miles, the shores are scarred with death.
Trees that weren't uprooted or stripped of leaves and branches have turned droopy and brown. Massive barges are dry-do
cked atop levee walls. Black, stagnant water has engulfed entire towns.

Everywhere lies destruction. Utility poles slope at 45-degree angles, their wires touching the ground. Buildings and trucks have been tossed like cardboard boxes.
"It's going to be a long time before they name their kids 'Katrina,' '' Archuleta said.
The Coast Guard didn't fare well, either. Farther down the Mississippi, the crew's station at Venice appears totaled.
Sections of brick walls flanked the two-story building. Four boats sit stalled on the station's parking lot.
The station was rebuilt last year after Hurricane Ivan, crew members said, but the damage is much more massive now.
Since the storm, the Coast Guard station has moved its patrol operations to Belle Chasse, the parish seat. Response boats cruise the Mississippi to verify that sailing vessels are authorized to be in the still-evacuated area.
Along the river banks, rocks have a charcoal film from the spilled oil pollutants. Some of the pelicans lie dead in the rubble. Others are coated brown with filth.


Katrina pummeled barrier islands along the Gulf Coast
By Cain Burdeau
GULFPORT, Miss. (AP) _ Hurricane Katrina seriously eroded the barrier islands along the Gulf Coast, further gnawing away at the dunes and beaches on the islands that act as hurricane speed bumps.
Of all the barrier islands, Katrina's storm surge hit the Chandeleur Islands off the southeast coast of Louisiana the hardest with pounding waves.
The chain of islands _ made famous by a visit by Theodore Roosevelt and the naturalist paintings of Walter Anderson _ lie low in Breton Sound and were under stress even before Katrina hit.
The islands were completely inundated,
and only a small section was visible during fly overs in the days after the storm struck. Its force dashed a historic lighthouse on the eastern edge of the chain.
In Mississippi, the series of islands off the coast from Biloxi _ Ship Island, Horn Island, Petit Bois _ were also scoured and breached by the extraordinary storm surge, which laid waste to the Mississippi and Louisiana coasts.
Ned Kremer, a marina owner in Gulfport, said the islands are likely devastated. Ship Island was a favorite spot for tourists and locals with its hot dog stands, blue waters and peaceful beaches. There is also an historic fort _ Fort Massachusetts _ on Ship Island, which was split in two, creating East and West Ship Islands, by Hurricane Camille's 200 mph winds in 1969.
"I can't imagine," Kremer said.
Klaus Meyer-Arendt, a University of West Florida coastal expert who has done extensive studies of the Gulf's barrier islands, said the worse damage will be to the Chandeleurs because they were already so low and fragile.
"They are probably just shoals by Katrina," Meyer-Arendt said.
He said the islands off the coast of Mississippi should be able to recover because they are so much higher.
It has been difficult to get a complete picture of the damage because boat and air traffic to the islands has been restricted by the ongoing search and rescue operations along the coast. Barrier islands, which are made up of sand drifts, naturally shift with currents over time. But there has been a gradual loss of the islands over the past century, especially along the Louisiana coast. A hundred years ago many of the islands were twice the size they are today and even contained villages and plantations.
The loss of the islands also poses a problem for communities on the mainland because they act as breaks to storm surge. The erosion of the islands is making the mainland even more vulnerable, more open to the Gulf.
"These were ocean waves and the barrier islands blocked those," Meyer-Arendt said. "Katrina would have been much worse if the islands hadn't been there."
There were signs that Louisiana's barrier islands farther to the west were not devastated as feared. Those islands _ Grand Terre and Grand Isle in particular _ have been undergone major restoration efforts.
Windell Curole, a Louisiana hurricane expert, said a recent survey of Grand Isle showed much of the island intact although there was a lot of damage to homes, fishing camps and other structures on the island.
The damage to the Chandeleurs will hurt many bird species, especially pelicans which use the islands as nesting grounds and migratory songbirds which use them as stopovers on flights to and from South America and Central America.
Little work to restore the islands has been done in recent years, in large part because they sit so far out in Breton Sound. The logistics of moving new sand out by pipeline or other means are immense.

Roosevelt declared the islands a bird refuge in 1904 _ making them the second oldest U.S. refuge _ and visited the islands in 1915 to see with his own eyes flocks of birds.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. http://www.wlox.com/Global/story.asp?S=3805682


Rare brown pelican spotted at Saylorville Lake, Iowa
DES MOINES, Iowa, August 30
As many as ten thousand pelicans, including a rare brown one, have flocked to Saylorville Lake.
The pelicans have been spotted just north of Des Moines as part of their annual migration south.
The brown pelican is the first seen at Saylorville since 1999.
Besides Saylorville, the birds have been spotted at Spirit Lake, Clear Lake, Storm Lake and Big Wall Lake.

Sick sea birds baffle experts

By:Alexandra Hackett
August 25, Indian Shores, Florida - The Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary is filled to the brim with sick birds - from pelicans to herons to double-crested cormorants.
Barbara Suto, Hospital Supervisor: "The wildlife are the environmental indicators of what's coming our way so we always have to keep that in mind."
Hospital Supervisor Barbara Suto and her counterparts are shaking their heads at their latest round of patients. They're not exactly sure what's wrong. At least 15 cormorants are showing signs of red tide.
Suto: "A lot of people in the public will describe them when they bring them in as he was acting drunk disoriented."
And then there are all of the pelicans and shore birds exhibiting symptoms of possible botulism.
Suto: "We've had over 70 come in exhibiting various stages of motor paralysis. It starts with their legs and works its way up their bodies to where their wings will get very weak and unable to move."

Even though there are no tests to confirm scientists’ suspicions, they're pumping the birds full of fluids and food, trying to get the toxins out of their symptoms. While Suto isn't sure what's causing the botulism symptoms, she says they're keeping their hopes pinned to the developing tropical storm to help drive out the red tide.
Suto: "We're hoping if Katrina forms and goes across the state, she'll take the red tide. It would be real nice to take it out of here or break it up or do something with it because we're afraid it could get a lot worse."
Alexandra Hackett, Tampa Bay's 10 News


Virulent algae creates red tide of death
Posted on Wed, Aug. 24, 2005 BY CARA BUCKLEY, Knight Ridder Newspapers

LONGBOAT KEY, Fla. - (KRT) - The sea looked too beautiful to be a morgue, stretching outward in undulating molten ripples under the summertime glare. But here, just outside the mouth of Tampa Bay, signs of trouble were everywhere.
Seabirds were circling endlessly without dipping. A captain scoured his scanner and his heart broke, because after hours of boating he hadn't come upon a single living fish. On the way back to shore, his passengers began pointing with one hand and covering their mouths with the other. A long ribbon of dead horseshoe crabs bobbed before them, interwoven with dozens of belly-up rotting fish.
"There's not one living thing out here - nothing," sighed the captain, Wayne Genthner. "The only thing I see breaking the surface is dead fish."
The culprit behind this patch of lifelessness is an ocean-borne algae known as red tide, and this summer it has come to redefine life along Florida's Gulf Coast. The toxic, single-cell algae exists naturally, but scientists are divided over whether humans' irrepressible urge to pave Florida's paradise is making this current outbreak worse.
Red tide sucks oxygen out of the water, suffocating sea life, and contains poisons that impair the nerves. :::snip:::
© 2005, The Miami Herald http://www.herald.com


N.D. Pelicans Probably Headed to Canada
By JAMES MacPHERSON, The Associated Press
Wednesday, August 24, 2005; 9:03 PM
BISMARCK, N.D. -- Thousands of American white pelicans that abandoned the Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge in central North Dakota after their chicks mysteriously died appear to have headed across the border to Canada, in southern Manitoba.
"Anything that holds water and fish seems have found a pelican, and even places that don't,
" said Ken DeSmet, an endangered species biologist for the Manitoba Conservation agency. "It's obvious that they are all over the place in areas you wouldn't normally see them."
"I'm sure they're Chase Lake birds," said Ken Torkelson, a spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Bismarck.
Biologists in both countries are baffled about the influx of the big white birds north of the border, and the exodus from the south.
The Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that about 18,850 pelicans returned to the Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge north of Medina in late May to nest. The count last month showed that only 280 of their chicks survived, after some 8,000 died during the spring and early summer nesting period, Torkelson said.

Last year, nearly 30,000 adult pelicans abandoned the refuge, leaving their live chicks and eggs behind, Torkelson said. This year, he said, the adults left after the chicks died.
Torkelson said Wednesday that less than 100 young birds remain at the 4,385-acre refuge, and the adult population has dropped to less than 300.
The white pelican colony at the Chase Lake refuge has been known as the largest in North America, peaking at 35,466 birds in 2000. The pelicans normally stay at the refuge through September, raising their young and feasting on crawfish, small fish and salamanders from small prairie ponds within a 100-mile radius of the refuge.
Most of the birds in Canada are about 300 miles from the North Dakota refuge, "as the pelican flies," DeSmet said.
Randy Mooi, curator of zoology at the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature, said unusually high numbers of pelicans began appearing in the province about two months ago, about the same time most left the North Dakota refuge.
"There has been quite a large inundation of pelicans, even in Winnipeg," Mooi said. "It's probably due to the Chase Lake collapse, but it's not easy to determine if they are Canadian American white pelicans, or if they are American American white pelicans."
Pelicans have been spotted in Winnipeg in places never seen before, including rainwater containment ponds, Mooi said. Minnows put in the ponds to control mosquitos probably attracted them, he said.
There were no extraordinary pelicans sightings in Manitoba last year, Mooi and DeSmet said.
Torkelson said he learned of the unusual number of pelicans across the border this week by reading a birdwatcher's Web site. Wildlife officials from both countries had not been in contact.
"Our communication isn't that good," Torkelson said
Samples of dozens of dead pelicans from the reserve and from other parts of the Upper Midwest are being tested at the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wis.
Kathryn Converse, wildlife disease specialist with the center, said no diseases were found in the first batch of dead chicks sent to the lab in early July, though they appeared to have more lice than normal. Some of the chicks collected and sent to the lab later in the month had been infected with the West Nile virus, she said.:::snip:::


Red tide bloom also affecting shore birds
The Associated Press, Sunday, August 21, 2005
SAND KEY, Fla. An unusually fierce red tide bloom killing undersea life in a large region of the Gulf of Mexico is also having a terrible effect on some shore birds, experts said.
Sanderlings, the little birds often seen hopping along the edge of the water, and double-crested cormorants, the dark birds with a hooked bill that swim as they fish, are among the species reported sick or dying in larger than usual numbers along the Pinellas County coast, where the algae bloom is strongest.
Birds are being found disoriented and convulsing, and are turning up dead, from Venice to Tarpon Springs.
University of South Florida marine biologist Gabriel Vargo and two graduate students are studying the effect of red tide on birds and have found the toxin in the tissue of nine different bird species.
Pelicans, great blue herons, sea gull
s, ibises, spoonbills and gannets are also affected.
"This red tide has lasted longer and been more virulent than anything I've seen in the past," longtime bird rescuer Pat Smith told the St. Petersburg Times. "Not only are the turtles and fish being destroyed, the birds are, too."
Red tide has taken a toll on bird species before, with 400 cormorants affected in 1996, said Barbara Suto, a supervisor at the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary and a wildlife biologist.
"What's different this year is that we've seen it cross over into other species," Suto said. "It didn't just stay offshore like it did in previous years. It came right into the bay."
Little is known about how the toxin from red tide affects birds. Bird experts say there likely are other reasons that bird species have been endangered this summer.
Hurricanes and other bacteria in the water are likely also at work, said Suto.
For example, Hurricane Dennis left more than 50 young pelicans in need of care at the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary. They're just about ready for release, Suto said.


West Nile virus gives rise to increased animal awareness

August 11, 2005
While the West Nile virus rarely ever induces noticeable symptoms in people, animals are more susceptible to the mosquito-borne disease, as seen as lately in Churchill County.
Seven mosquito pools, three pelicans and one horse in the county have tested positive for the virus since late July.
Three pelicans have all been reported carriers of the virus in the past week. Nevada Department of Wildlife officials recovered two sickly and disoriented pelicans at Carson Lake, and one was found dead at the Canvasback Duck Club by Churchill County Mosquito Abatement workers.
Rink said there are some warning signs exhibited in birds when they have become poisoned or are stricken with a virus like West Nile.
"It's not uncommon to see infected birds not be able to take off for flight," Rink said. "Sometimes, they can just fall right out of the sky, which is really sad. They'll fall over when they walk. Basically, they look drunk because of all the trauma they're experiencing."

Many birds like the two pelicans that were found at Carson Lake are taken to local wildlife rehabilitators so they can recover before they are sent back out to the wild.
While the temptation to care for a sick bird might be inviting, pelicans fall under the Migratory Bird Act and need to be cared for by licensed wildlife rehabilitators.
If someone sees a bird displaying symptoms, Rink said their best option is to call their local animal control agency or NDOW.
"If people see birds with symptoms, they should not make the decision on what to with the birds," Rink said. "They should call NDOW.


Pelicans hanging out at Chase Lake

Bismarck Tribune
Coordinates from transmitters fitted on eight adult American white pelicans that dispersed from Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge showed several of the big white birds were hanging out near the refuge, while other birds were transmitting from nearby states.
Two of the Chase Lake pelicans are in South Dakota, one is in Minnesota and another is in Iowa, Ken Torkelson, a spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said Monday.
And one transmitter-fitted white pelican from the Medicine Lake colony in northeastern Montana has dropped in at Pipestem Reservoir near Jamestown.
Samples from another 10 young pelicans were sent off for testing to a Madison, Wis., laboratory last week, Torkelson said.
"They are leaning toward West Nile because of the symptoms and the timing," Torkelson said. Birds stricken with the West Nile virus often stumble around and lose their balance.

Researchers visited the nesting islands late last week.
The colony also saw its first juvenile pelican fledge, the researchers noted.
For two consecutive summer nesting seasons, the Chase Lake colony has been hit with mysteries.
Earlier this year, a massive chick die-off prompted most of the adult pelicans to leave their traditional nesting sites, once believed to hold the largest pelican colony in North America.
Testing to determine the cause of those deaths continues in the Madison laboratory. From a potential chick population of 9,000, the colony now is holding fewer than 300 young pelicans.



Almost 200 pelicans back in wild after oil spill
Nearly 700 died

AP, 11:02 a.m. August 7, 2005
BRETON NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, La. – After weeks of treatment, nearly 200 young brown pelicans that survived an oil spill are back in the wild. Fourteen others, too young to release, are with a wildlife rehabilitator in Baton Rouge.
Nearly 700 others died, including hundreds treated by scientists and veterinarians from throughout the country, working at MASH-like veterinary hospitals set up in Venice near the mouth of the Mississippi River.

"We had to build a tent city," said Greg Beuerman, a spokesman for Amerada Hess Corp., which owns the well from which the oil spilled. "It was a 24-hour-a-day medical mission."
That treatment wrapped up about four weeks ago, but the survivors on North Breton Island have been fed daily with dead menhaden tossed into a small lagoon. That, too, is winding down.
"Initially we fed them twice a day. We are now down to once a day," U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist James Harris said recently.
The spill's cause isn't yet known, but it occurred about the time Tropical Storm Arlene hit the Florida Panhandle on June 11, Beuerman said. The platform was less than three miles from tiny West Breton Island in the Breton National Wildlife Refuge, where pelicans nested.
The spill was discovered June 12, when workers who evacuated for the storm returned to the platform. The rescue of the birds began two days later.
A total of 802 birds, almost all young pelicans, were taken from the island, Beuerman said. He said about 200 already were dead, and another 100 dead birds weren't recovered.
Treatment started on 598 birds. (see June-July pelican News) More than 350 died in spite of treatment, and another 36 during the first four weeks after they were released.
The veterinarians came from the University of California-Davis and from Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research, a Delaware wildlife rehabilitation group. Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education of Houston and the International Bird Rescue Research Center in Cordelia, Calif., each brought a large corps of volunteers. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and several private companies also participated.
The pelicans were treated at a large building in Venice, a mobile veterinary clinic on loan from Chevron Oil and another mobile hospital, Beuerman said. Recovered birds were moved to pens shaded by tents, where they could get used to being outdoors.
Rescuers began moving the 243 survivors on June 27 to North Breton Island, next to West Breton Island, because it is a bit higher and has more plants, making it better for nests.
They did so before the birds could fly, so that they would learn to identify it as home. Their food was thrown into the water so the birds would fish for themselves, rather than being fed by people.
Most have matured and left the island, joining wild birds, but a few still come back daily to feed, Harris said.
All were banded to track their movements. Of 229 birds returned to the refuge, 36 died during the first four weeks, Harris said.
Most were 5- to 6-week-old chicks when the spill hit. They swallowed oil. Toxins soaked in through their skin. Their soft, downy feathers were ruined, leaving them unprotected from the sun on the treeless barrier island.

"Parent birds normally shade the young during the day," but many parents left after the spill, leaving the babies without shade or food, Harris said.
Many of the chicks were bloated with displaced air under their skin, UC-Davis veterinarian Greg Massey said.
"They have an extensive subcutaneous air sack system. It's part of their respiratory tract. ... When you touch them, it feels like touching bubble wrap," he said.
But something – even dissection of a dead pelican didn't turn up the cause – moved air out of the sacks and under the skin, he said.
The prognosis for the Breton Sound pelican colony is good, Harris said.
"From what we can tell, the adults were not affected to any great degree. They should be back next year."

Information from: The Times-Picayune, www.timespicayune.com


Wildlife Viewing
August 5, 2005
Oregon Coast: A Mongolian plover in breeding plumage was seen at the mouth of the Necanicum River in Gearhart, and later was seen flying between there and nearby Stanley Lake, on the east side of Highway 101, where a pair of semipalmated sandpipers and a ruddy turnstone are being seen. A female ruff is at Bandon Marsh National Wildlife Refuge. The yellow-billed loon reported on Yaquina Bay continues to be seen. Two calliope hummingbirds were at Saddle Mountain State Park, east of Seaside. Purple martin may be seen using nest boxes on snags near the boat launch at Ten Mile Lake, south of Florence.
Pelicans arriving: Brown pelicans are migrating into the north coastal area. Some popular areas to view them include the Tillamook, Netarts and Nestucca bays and the lower Columbia River estuary. The birds also can be seen roosting on near-shore rocks, such as Three Arch Rocks near Oceanside, when they're not feeding at sea.

:::snip::: (for more on Oregon wildlife.)


Refuge chief says pelican exodus is not alarming

A top federal wildlife official says the pelican mystery at the Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge may be a natural correction.
William Hartwig, the chief of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Refuge System, got a tour of the refuge near Medina on Wednesday, with Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.
Nearly 30,000 white pelicans abandoned the refuge last year, leaving eggs and chicks behind. This year, refuge officials estimated about 8,000 young white pelicans died during the spring and early summer nesting period, and more adults left.
"I'm concerned but I'm not alarmed," Hartwig said.

Dorgan and Hartwig peered through spotting scopes at the remaining pelicans and got briefings from Dave Bolin, a manager at the refuge, and Marsha Sovada, a biologist at the U.S. Geological Survey's Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center in Jamestown.
Sovada said Wednesday that about 280 chicks remain at the 4,385-acre refuge, and the adult population has dropped to about 600.
Hartwig said pelicans typically have "more bad years than good years" in their natural reproductive process.
"You can't look at one or two years," Hartwig said. "You have to look at the lifetime of the bird."

Bob Barrett, the deputy refuge superintendent for North Dakota and South Dakota, said the overall continental population of the pelicans has increased 280 percent in the past 20 years.
"The continental population is still healthy," Barrett said.
Dorgan said there may be some plausible reason for the pelican exodus, but he wants to make sure the pelicans are not "sort of a canary in a mine shaft, signaling a larger problem that needs more attention."
The white pelican colony at the Chase Lake refuge has been known as the largest in North America, peaking at 35,466 birds in 2000. Officials have been studying disease and predator problems, but they say they may never know exactly why thousands of birds left.
The white pelican, one of the largest birds in North America, has a wingspan of nearly 10 feet and lives about 25 years. Officials say it breeds only once a year.
JAMES MacPHERSON, Associated Press, Posted on Wed, Aug. 03, 2005

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