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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.


June 2005

A new Wildlife News page!!!

Reward offered for info about California Brown Pelican mutilation

2004-5 Archives | Bitter Lake, SD | Breton National Wildlife Refuge | Chase Lake NWR count, numbers down | Chase Lake white pelican die-off 1, 2 | Chase Lake NWR visit scheduled | domoic acid | Hurricane Dennis and Florda Panhandle | Idaho pelicans v. trout | Louisiana oil spill 1 2(expensive) 3 4 5 | Louisiana peli. survivors released | Monterey Bay, CA | only the pelicans know | red tide | Santa Barbara's Snowy Plover chicks | Tucson, AZ pelicans | UC Davis helps with LA oil spill

Refuge chief plans visit to Chase Lake to observe pelicans
The Associated Press - Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The chief of the National Wildlife Refuge System is slated to tour Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge in central North Dakota, where a mysterious mass die-off of white pelican chicks has occurred the past two nesting seasons.
William Hartwig, refuge chief at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will visit the refuge on Aug. 3, said Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D.
"I wanted him to come out and see it personally," Dorgan said. "There is obviously something going on out there that we do not understand ... we need to get to the bottom of it."
Dorgan said he and Hartwig will meet refuge officials and view the rookery, where only 280 chicks remain, after some 8,000 died during the spring and early summer nesting period.
Last year, nearly 30,000 adult pelicans took off, leaving their live chicks and eggs behind, confounding biologists.
Chase Lake historically has been the largest white pelican nesting grounds in North America.
"We need to get to the bottom of it," Dorgan said of the pelicans' exodus and chick die-off. "I don't think we can just stand by and wait for these birds to disappear."
It would be Hartwig's first visit to the refuge since the ornithological mystery began, said Ken Torkelson, a spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Bismarck.

Dorgan said he secured language in the Interior Appropriations bill on Tuesday, asking Fish and Wildlife to study the problem at Chase Lake and report its findings by Oct. 1. The bill now goes to the House and Senate for a final vote.
Wildlife officials have been investigating the deaths, but Torkelson said money to study the mystery has not been sufficient.
"We welcome any help we can get - and finances is what really makes things happen," he said. "We did not think this past year that we had the resources to do a very thorough investigation.
By JAMES MacPHERSON Associated Press Writer

Chase Lake pelican population stable after chick die-off

BISMARCK, N.D, The Associated Press - Saturday, July 16, 2005
The white pelican nesting population at the Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge has stabilized after a die-off of thousand of chicks, a federal Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman said Friday.
"There are no new cases. No new dead birds and no new sick chicks," spokesman Ken Torkelson said. "Whatever affected them appears to have run its course."
Torkelson said biologists surveyed the rookery earlier Friday.
The Fish and Wildlife Service said an inspection of the refuge a week ago indicated only about 500 chicks left from a nesting period that could have produced as many as 9,000 of them. The check also showed all but about 2,000 adults had left, from a population estimated at 18,850 in late May.
Nearly 30,000 adult pelicans took off last year, leaving live chicks and eggs behind, baffling biologists.
This year, the big birds took off after their chicks died.
Samples have been sent to the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wis., to try to find out what killed the young birds this year at Chase Lake, the largest white pelican rookery in North America.
Torkelson said pelican chicks at Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge in northeast Montana also have suffered a higher-than-normal mortality rate this year.
At Bitter Lake near the Waubay National Wildlife Refuge in South Dakota, some white pelicans are showing signs of illness, refuge manager Larry Martin said.
Conditions are crowded on the four islands in Bitter Lake where pelicans nest, creating potential health problems, Martin said.
There are about 2,500 pelicans at Bitter Lake, Martin said. Most chicks are doing well and adults are still returning, but problems could arise if hot weather continues, he said.
Torkelson said biologists have ruled out the West Nile virus as the cause of the apparent illness in the pelicans in South Dakota.
The CLNWR pelican situation is of interest in South Africa, too:   July 25 2005: <http://www.iol.co.za/index.php?set_id=14&click_id=143&art_id=qw1122267969172R131>


Bitter Lake pelicans mostly healthy
ABERDEEN, S.D. - Some white pelicans at Bitter Lake near the Waubay National Wildlife Refuge are showing signs of illness, but it's far short of what's happened at a refuge farther north, according to refuge manager Larry Martin.
At least 8,000 white pelican chicks have died in the past two months at the Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge in central North Dakota. The reason for the die-off is not known.
Conditions are crowded on the four islands in Bitter Lake where pelicans nest, so there's bound to be some health problems, Martin said.
There are about 2,500 pelicans at Bitter Lake, Martin said. Most chicks are doing well and adults are still returning, but problems could arise if hot weather continues, he said.

The pelican population at Chase Lake was estimated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service at 18,850 in late May. All but 2,000 adults have left since the die-off of chicks.
The pelican colony at Chase Lake has been the largest in North America, peaking at 35,466 birds in 2000.
Aberdeen American News, http://www.aberdeennews.com, Posted on Fri, Jul. 15, 2005, AP


Wildlife experts caring for pelicans washed out by Dennis

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- Wildlife rehabilitators across Florida are teaming up to come to the rescue of scores of baby pelicans that were battered and left orphaned by Hurricane Dennis in the Florida Panhandle.
Many of the injured pelicans are being nursed back to health at the Florida Wild Mammal Association in Wakulla County. The facility has taken in about 150 baby pelicans since Monday.
The birds are between three and twelve weeks old and can't survive on their own. They were swept off a nesting island by the powerful storm surge from Hurricane Dennis.

The babies were separated from their parents during the storm and became tangled in a lot of debris and seaweed on shore.
Jill Hepple of the Florida Wild Mammal Association says caring for the baby pelicans is very labor intensive. Rescuers are giving fluids to the birds with a tube twice a day and hand-feeding them fish twice more. She says some of the sick birds need round-the-clock care.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reports Hurricane Dennis also destroyed nesting areas for sea turtles and the black skimmer, which is another struggling bird species on Florida's Gulf Coast.
(Copyright 200, A.P.)


Wildlife hospital takes in pelicans
Castaways lost Panhandle home to last month's hurricane

To help the pelicans, send your checks to Florida Wildlife Hospital, 4560 North U.S. 1, Melbourne, FL 32935, or use PayPal to donate online at info@Floridawildlifehospital.org. Mention that the gift is "for the pelicans" on your donation.
To volunteer, check the hospital's Web site at www.floridawildlifehospital.org/

MELBOURNE - The occupancy rate at Florida Wildlife Hospital would make Orlando hotels green with envy. Just after eight otters left the hospital for their new home in the wild, 20 baby brown pelicans checked in.
Good thing the otters had gone, because the "otter suite," a well-apportioned enclosure complete with water feature, actually is the sea bird cage, the only aviary big enough to hold such a large bunch of pelicans.
The 20 castaways lost their homes when Hurricane Dennis destroyed the rookery in Franklin County's Bird Island.
They were the lucky few. Between 700 to 1,000 chicks lived in the 500-nest rookery. Only 100 were rescued and the rest probably washed away in the storm.
"The parents left and the majority probably survived, but there wasn't anything for them to come back to," said Sue Small, director of Florida Wildlife Hospital.
The babies were found entangled in seaweed or dazedly stumbling over the rubble of what had once been the island's homes.
The birds range in age from eight to 12 weeks.
"They're going to be here for quite awhile while their flight feathers grow," Small said.
Luckily for the birds, they were rescued soon after the storm passed, and all seem in good health.
They were brought to Brevard through the efforts of the Florida Wildlife Rehabilitators Association, a statewide network that, after last year's storms, formed a disaster plan to assist animal rehabbers impacted by natural disasters.
The 100 birds found were quickly distributed at wildlife sanctuaries and hospitals throughout the state.

Whoever coined the phrase "eating like a bird" obviously hadn't seen baby pelicans chow down. The hospital is going through 50 pounds of fish a day.
"It takes 150 pounds of fish to raise one pelican," Small said.

Hospital staff hopes community donations can help offset the costs of feeding the 20 little pouched fluffballs.
"We can buy the fish wholesale and get a better price," Small said. "It's important to feed them one consistent variety of fish."
In addition to donations, the hospital could use volunteers.
"We'll definitely need more people in the fall," Small said. "Baby squirrel season is about to start."



Birds' second mass exodus
By RICHARD HINTON, Bismarck Tribune
An estimated 16,000 or more American white pelicans again have pulled out of Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge, but this mass departure follows a die-off of pelican chicks.
Researchers are unsure of the cause of the chicks' deaths, but the die-off of young birds could total 8,000 or more.
"We're ruling out disturbance and leaning heavily toward disease," Ken Torkelson, a spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said Tuesday. The USFWS oversees the refuge and its pelican population.
An on-site look Friday revealed about 300 to 500 live chicks remaining after a nesting period that had the potential to produce as many as 9,000 over the course of the summer. However, biologists say they believe the estimate of live chicks remaining is likely low because tall vegetation is hampering visibility.
That same check showed about 2,000 adults remaining from a late May population estimated at 18,850.
"When chicks die, adults have no reason to stay," Torkelson explained.

Another on-site inspection Tuesday revealed no additional deaths, so "whatever is claiming the birds is slowing down," Torkelson said. Observers peered through spotting scopes at the birds on distant islands to make that determination.
Researchers on site last week did note that the remaining chicks are being cared for by adult pelicans.
This latest mystery follows a massive pullout last spring in which an estimated 30,000 adults abandoned living chicks and eggs over several weeks in late May and early June. Scientists still don't know what prompted those adults to abruptly leave.
"We are doing our best to separate this from last year's event when adults left behind valuable eggs and chicks," Torkelson said.
Although the West Nile virus hasn't been ruled out, researchers who do checks of the pelicans said the symptoms do not mimic West Nile. Birds stricken with the West Nile virus often stumble around and lose their balance, Torkelson said.
Samples were collected and sent to the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wis., to determine the cause of the chick mortality, but results aren't expected until "later this week or next week" because the lab must do time-consuming cultures on every sample.
There also has been a "significant" chick die-off in the American white pelican colony at Medicine Lake NWR in Montana, Torkelson said, and samples from those birds likely will back up the lab even further.
Heat, rain and wind also could be factors in the Chase Lake chick deaths.
The Chase Lake area went through a "serious bout of wind and rain" after the chicks had bunched up into pods.
"They didn't have parental protection, and that may have hurt them as well," Torkelson said.
This summer's heat possibly could knock down the chicks' immune systems, allowing disease to run through the population of chicks when they are at their most susceptible stages.
Data from some of the eight adult pelicans that were fitted with the satellite tracking collars this year show they are "scattered to many parts of North Dakota," Torkelson said.
One pelican flew to South Dakota, turned around and came back, and others are hanging out close to Chase Lake.
Following last year's mass disappearance, the USFWS and the U.S. Geological Survey's Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center and the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, began closer monitoring of the colony to learn more about the abandonment of nests, eggs and newly hatched chicks.
The USFWS also restricted visitor access to the nesting areas to reduce the risk of disturbance during the sensitive nesting period. A barrier fence was constructed to exclude predators such as coyotes and foxes from the peninsula colony, where abandonment was first observed last year. Additionally, cameras and human observers with binoculars and spotting scopes are being used to monitor the colony.
The massive numbers of pelicans in the early 2000s forced late arriving birds to nest on a peninsula instead of the already filled-up islands, but the arrival of fewer pelicans this year allowed all of the nesting to be done on only the islands.
Surviving chicks and their parents continue to occupy all three islands, Torkelson said.
The pelican colony at the 4,385-acre Chase Lake NWR north of Medina has been the largest in North America, peaking at 35,466 birds in 2000 after the population was as low as 50 pelicans in the early 1900s.
The American white pelican, one of North America's largest birds, has a wingspan of about 8 feet. They have a lifespan of slightly more than 26 years, and they breed once a year, with females and males taking turns caring for the young. Typically, the mortality for young pelicans is 41 percent after fledging.
Researchers had hoped a return to normalcy at Chase Lake this year would have given them more time to study possible causes of last year's mysterious departure.
"Unfortunately, this year's high chick mortality may complicate that investigation. It is still entirely possible that last year's abandonment was a quirk of nature; one of those strange occurrences that never gets explained," Torkelson said.


See also, A New Blow to ND Pelicans <http://www.startribune.com/stories/462/5503550.html>


Endangered pelicans go to Desert Museum
Tuesday, July 12, 2005
LARRY COPENHAVER, lcopenha@tucsoncitizen.com
Three California brown pelicans are recuperating at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, swept in by winds from either Mexico or California.
The birds, caught in air currents too strong to fight, were found between July 4 and yesterday, said Mary Powell-McConnell, who cares for the birds.
The pelicans eventually will be shipped to SeaWorld San Diego, which will release them into the wild. Until transportation is arranged, museum staff cares for them, providing access to ponds, sprinklers and plenty of smelt, a chublike fish the museum buys frozen.
"I absolutely adore pelicans," Powell-McConnell said. "Each one has its unique personality ... and they perform a little, happy pelican dance after they have a full belly."
Three more brown pelicans are known to be flying around Tucson's urban lakes, while two have been found dead, she said. Though their causes of death were not determined, some of the 26 wayward pelicans last monsoon season were rescued after mistaking shimmering pavement for water and diving into the road.
The pelican plunges for its food and often dives from extraordinary heights to catch fish, she said.
Landing in the Sonoran Desert is not that unusual for pelicans, she noted. Already this year, the birds have landed elsewhere in the desert, including 13 in Yuma and three in Phoenix.
Ordinarily, off-course pelicans show up at swimming pools, water parks and urban lakes, she said. One of those reaching Tucson last year landed in a koi pond and wiped out the owner's collection.
When the bird was recovered, it seemed very satisfied, Powell-McConnell said, "but these were not happy people who had the pond."
Because the birds are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, officials make every effort to save them.
If a bird is weak, dehydrated or even blind in one eye, it can be rehabilitated and accepted by a zoo. However, a shattered wing, hip or leg means a bird likely will be euthanized, she said.
Powell-McConnell said care and shipping are expensive, and the public is invited to donate to the pelican fund. Call 883-1380.


See also: <http://www.dailystar.com/dailystar/allheadlines/83658.php>


June 28, 2005 02:30 PM
Surviving pelicans released following oil spill
NEW ORLEANS — Sixty-three endangered brown pelicans that had been coated with light crude oil have been released on an island at Breton National Wildlife Refuge following treatment at a Venice, La. rehabilitation facility, officials with the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service said today.
The juvenile birds were among those being treated after an oil spill was discovered to have fouled their nesting grounds at Breton on June 13. The birds were captured and taken to Venice, where rehab experts from around the nation converged and began treatment in a race to save them from the deadly effects of the oil.

Because the juvenile pelicans had yet not learned to fly or fend for themselves, a hacking program was implemented in which the birds were taught the skills they would need to survive in the wild. The released birds will be monitored to determine whether aspects of the hacking program need to be continued on the island. Additional releases of birds from the rehab facility are planned in the coming days and weeks.

The released birds are part of a population of approximately 260 surviving brown pelicans treated in the wake of the spill. An additional 700 birds died either on the island, in transit to the rehab facility, or after treatment had begun. The cause of the spill is under investigation.

Breton National Wildlife Refuge is one of a network of refuges across the country managed to preserve wildlife and habitat. Portions of Breton are also designated as Class I Wilderness. The refuge is the second-oldest in the nation, and celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2004. http://bizneworleans.com/109+M5fea5d6d21b.html


Where did they go? Only the pelicans know
By Ken Rogers for the Tribune
At Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge this spring, American white pelicans built more than 9,000 nests. That translates into 18,850 breeding adults, a respectable number of pelicans by anyone's standard. And that's excellent news.
The worry was that none of the pelicans would show. That something terrible, some weird Stephen King-type thing, had happened to them.
It's sort of like the convention and visitors bureau folks discovering bunches of empty hotel rooms during a basketball tournament -- kind of scary.
And there was cause to fret. Last year, nearly 28,000 birds nesting at Chase Lake picked up and left, abandoning thousands of unhatched eggs. The birds left no sign of why or where they were going, or if they were coming back. No comment cards about poor service. It was a big mystery for wildlife biologists and newspaper readers.
It's still a mystery.
The Chase Lake birds represented the largest nesting colony of pelicans in North America, and more than a third of all pelicans on the continent. The nesting colony had been growing rapidly. In the 1970s there were fewer than 10,000 birds, and in the past seven years the number of birds has topped 20,000 twice.
In 1905, when biologists began keeping track of such things, there were only about 50 big birds nesting at Chase Lake. The 18,850 birds sitting on eggs this spring -- a number based on an aerial survey of nests and a computer program -- were then indeed welcome. The birds are a sign that things are right with our environment. The end of the world is not nigh.
Some think the pelicans bailed out last spring because of predators. Others feel us human beings disturbed them. And still others think that the pelican population was self corrected, that there were just too many birds for Chase Lake.

Part of our destiny is not to know the answers to every question.
And so the mystery of the vanishing pelicans remains unsolved.



UC Davis Treating Oiled Pelicans in Louisiana
June 24, 2005

UC Davis wildlife veterinarians are continuing to treat hundreds of young pelicans injured in a June 12 oil spill off the coast of Louisiana. Veterinarian Michael Ziccardi returned to campus after a week at the pelican rescue center and was replaced by veterinarian Greg Massey, who will be there for at least the next several weeks.
Ziccardi said he and Massey currently are trying to understand medical complications that some of the pelicans are experiencing. "This is something important that UC Davis brings to the table -- our ability to investigate problems that arise after the initial oil exposure," Ziccardi said.
Ziccardi traveled to the rescue center at Venice, La., on June 15 and in the next several days cared for more than 400 pelicans ages 4 to 12 weeks old. As of Thursday (June 23), 959 birds had been collected, either living or dead, and 268 were still alive at the rescue center.
The pelicans, which are so young they cannot fly yet, were helpless when roughly 560 gallons of oil spilled on Sunday, June 12, from an Amerada Hess Corp. oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico and washed over West Breton Island, where the birds were being raised by their parents. The company has said that the spill seemed to be related to the effects of tropical storm Arlene; it was discovered when crew members who had been evacuated returned to the oil platform.
Local officials called on UC Davis and three other wildlife organizations, including the International Bird Rescue Research Center, a close partner of UC Davis that is based in Cordelia, Calif.; Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research of Delaware; and Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education of Texas.
Ziccardi, Massey and Jonna Mazet, director of the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center, treat and study oiled wildlife around the world. In California, they manage a chain of coastal rescue centers and programs that are collectively called the Oiled Wildlife Care Network. The network and wildlife health center are programs of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.
The Wildlife Health Center is dedicated to the conservation of free-ranging wildlife through research and education. Its 10 years of veterinary care and scientific study of oiled birds, otters and other wildlife have established standards and practices now used worldwide.
In January, UC Davis veterinarians cared for more than 800 birds oiled off the coast of Southern California. An additional 600 birds were known to have died in that spill; Mazet estimated the actual number of deaths at more than 2,400.
Additional information:
January spill news release
International Bird Rescue Research Center
Media contact(s):
• Michael Ziccardi, Wildlife Health Center, (530) 752-4167, mhziccardi@ucdavis.edu

<http://www.news.ucdavis.edu/photos_images/news_images/06-2005/pelican_lg.jpg> Young pelicans play together, after being treated for oil-spill injuries at the Venice, La., rescue center. (Jay Holcomb, International Bird Rescue Research Center)

Spill reminds us pelicans vulnerable
Louisiana has a special connection with pelicans. The image of a pelican feeding its young appears on Louisiana's official state seal. The image is an icon of selflessness, serving as a standard of civic virtue that the state's colorful political culture too often has ignored.
Even so, the pelican, especially the brown pelican, is part of our community identity.
Because of that, the recent harm done to hundreds of Louisiana brown pelicans by a small oil spill is a particularly painful event for the state's residents.
Louisiana's brown pelican population, which once numbered 85,000, is making a comeback after suffering steep declines in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Studies determined that severe weather, disease and pesticides such as DDT contributed to the birds'decline.
In 1968 and 1969, the state teamed up with Florida wildlife officials to restock Louisiana coastal areas with pelicans from Florida.
We're glad that Louisiana's pelican population has been rebounding.
But the recent oil spill near Venice should remind us of the pelicans' vulnerability to man-made environmental impacts -- and our responsibility to protect a state treasure for future generations.


Rescue groups scramble to clean oil off pelicans
More than 400 birds dead a week after oil spill
By Amy Wold, Advocate staff writer
VENICE -- In a state crisscrossed by pipelines and dotted with oil rigs, oil spills aren't unusual in Louisiana. But a 560-gallon spill of light crude last week near the Breton National Wildlife Refuge happened at the wrong place and the wrong time for nesting pelicans on the refuge's islands.

As of Friday, 802 birds -- primarily brown pelicans -- were affected by the oil spill. Although rescue efforts continue, 431 of the birds have died, while 371 remained alive as of Friday afternoon.
The oil spill was discovered June 12 when workers returned to the Amerada Hess Breton Sound 51 platform after evacuating for Tropical Storm Arlene.
The platform is located about 60 miles southeast of New Orleans.

"It's not the black, tarry oil that people have seen in other situations," said Byron Fortier, supervisory park ranger with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "As you walk along the beach, you're not going to see a lot of oil."
However, the spill affected the relatively small west point area of Breton Island, known as an important nesting site for brown pelicans.
"It has the most significant brown pelican nesting colony in Louisiana and one of the most significant in the Gulf states," Fortier said. The pelicans are nesting now, he said.
"It ended up at the worst place at the worst time," Fortier said about the oil spill.

Greg Beuerman, spokesman for Amerada Hess, said the U.S. Coast Guard is in charge of the investigation into finding a cause of the leak. He said it appears the leak came from an overflow from a diversion tank. Both he and Fortier agreed that the volume of the oil spill was relatively small, but where and when that spill occurred made it significant.

In a metal building in Venice, staff from three wildlife rescue groups, along with personnel from Amerada Hess Corp., and federal and state agencies are working to restore as many of the birds as possible to health.
Plywood pens separate groups of cleaned and oiled juvenile pelicans while at a nearby table, workers set up three metal tubs full of soapy water as the work of cleaning the birds continues.
Heidi Stout, oil programs director with Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research Inc. and a doctor of veterinary medicine, said most of the birds involved are the young fledglings that couldn't fly well enough to escape the oil when it came close to the island.
Stout estimated that the young birds range from 5 to 14 weeks of age. With few feathers, many of the birds look like they've been plucked. Stout said that's the effect of their age, not the oil itself.

Stout explained that the bird rehabilitation occurs in steps starting with stabilizing the birds medically so they can handle the stress of being washed and cleaned.
"These animals are wild animals. They're not used to being in captivity," Stout said. "But, we do everything we can to minimize the stress."

Oil can affect birds both internally and externally, she said. On the outside, the oil can cause skin irritation, cause the birds to lose their buoyancy, and they can drown. Oil also can affect birds' waterproofing and ability to maintain their body temperature.
Internally, the birds may suffer from dehydration, which in turn can cause kidney- and liver-related problems, she said. While they preen their feathers, the birds can also swallow oil, which can cause problems with their throats, stomachs and other internal organs.

In addition, because the Breton Island birds were so young and didn't have a full growth of feathers to protect them from the elements, their exposed skin can get sunburned.
"Sun really becomes an issue," she said.
However, that same lack of heavy feather coverage means that the birds that are brought to the rehabilitation center can be cleaned more easily, she said.

It's unclear when the birds will be released back to the wild since many of them are so young and not fully capable of flight, she said. Some of them may need to be kept in captivity longer until they have a better chance of survival on their own.
"The release plan hasn't been finalized yet," Stout said.
Louisiana's brown pelican population -- the state once had about 85,000 of them -- is making a comeback after the birds disappeared from coastal areas in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Studies determined that prolonged freezing temperatures, hurricanes, severe storms and flooding, disease and certain pesticides such as DDT in the environment contributed to the die-off.
But in 1968, the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission and the Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission joined in a program to restock Louisiana coastal areas with pelicans from Florida.
In 1968 and 1969, about 100 nestlings, the first of about 700 in all, were brought from Florida and released at nesting colonies at the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge and at Grand Terre Island near Queen Bess Island.

Advocate staff photo by Bill Feig
Kristine Evan, center, works Friday to scrub clean a pelican exposed to an oil spill as Jay Holcomb, left, and Debbie Mitchell, right, keep it steady in a bath.


463 pelicans die from oil spill effects
339 being treated at center in Venice, Louisiana

Saturday, June 18, 2005, St. Bernard/Plaquemines bureau
More than 450 brown pelicans, most of them too young to fly, have died from an oil spill discovered Sunday near Breton National Wildlife Refuge.
The cause of the small but deadly spill from an Amerada Hess Corp. oil platform near West Breton Island has not been determined, company spokesman Greg Beuerman said Friday.

The company coordinated the cleanup and wildlife rescue effort.
Beuerman said 339 pelicans were alive and being treated Friday afternoon at a rehabilitation center set up in Venice.
Efforts to capture oiled birds began Tuesday. Of the 802 birds taken from the island, 463 died, he said.
Beuerman said 47 trained professional wildlife rehabilitators and veterinarians were working at the Venice center.
"The physical washing and cleansing process" of the birds has begun, he said. Beuerman said the rehabilitation would continue for as long as needed.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service supervisory ranger Byron Fortier said that likely will include teaching young birds how to fish once they are able to fly.
"I learned today . . . they will have to establish some sort of ponds or pools with fish. They say adult pelicans will be attracted, and more or less model fishing for the young," he said.

The impact on Louisiana's brown pelican population is unclear. Brown pelicans are listed as an endangered species in the state.
Research biologist Thomas Michot of the National Wetlands Research Center in Lafayette said he had just conducted a nest count at West Breton Island last week.
On June 8, there were 1,300 brown pelican nests, 1,500 royal tern nests, 1,600 laughing gull nests, 750 Caspian tern nests and 40 sandwich tern nests at the island, totaling 5,190 pairs of nesting birds, Michot said.
Fortier said that, except for the pelicans, only a few birds at the island were found with oil on them.
The island apparently was overwashed with oil and water during Tropical Storm Arlene, he said.
The storm moved through the Gulf of Mexico and onto shore just west of Pensacola, Fla., on June 11.
He said adult pelicans had started to return to the island by Friday and to resume normal parenting behavior, and that some juvenile pelicans had been left there because they had no oil or little oil on them.
"The decision was made, rather than disrupt the colony by going to retrieve (those) birds, that they would be better off left there."
Beuerman said that a total of 13 barrels of oil spilled, and four to six barrels were recovered. Because it was a light crude, some evaporated "at a fairly significant rate," he said.
The cleanup is nearly complete, Beuerman said. Fortier said some workers are cleaning oil in the marshy part of the island by hand with absorbent pads.
. . . . . . .
Sandra Barbier can be reached at sbarbier@timespicayune.com or (504) 826-3836.

Collision of Louisiana icons, pelicans and oil, sets rescuers in motion
Thursday, June 16, 2005
By Sandra Barbier; St. Bernard/Plaquemines bureau
Hundreds of young brown pelicans covered with a mixture of downy feathers and crude oil stood in pens inside a Venice warehouse Wednesday, where the delicate process of bathing the birds is expected to begin today as part of an attempt to save them.
They are some of the estimated 1,000 pelicans contaminated by an oil spill in Breton Sound. Wildlife rescuers have captured about 450 oiled brown pelicans since Tuesday at West Breton Island, part of the Breton National Wildlife Refuge.
In recent years, the island has been the state's largest brown pelican nesting area, and officials said the spill occurred during the height of the nesting season.

About 120 of the rescued birds died, either before they reached the dock or overnight Tuesday, said Byron Fortier, supervisory ranger for the Southeast Louisiana National Wildlife Refuges.
Fortier said there are other dead pelicans at West Breton Island, but an estimate was not available.
The Coast Guard estimated that as many as 1,000 birds have been contaminated by the spill.
About 560 gallons of oil leaked from an Amerada Hess Corp. oil platform about 2 1⁄2 miles west of the island, company spokesman Jay Wilson said.
Wilson said the leak was discovered Sunday morning by workers returning to the well after being evacuated for Tropical Storm Arlene. The cause of the leak had not been determined, he said.
The company notified the national oil spill response center, which notifies the Coast Guard and other agencies, Coast Guard spokeswoman Lt. Commander Cheri Ben-Iesau said.
Wilson said the company began cleanup efforts immediately and had a skimmer boat and surveillance helicopter at the site Sunday afternoon.
"We thought things were beginning to look good" Monday, he said, but that was when U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents discovered oil had got to the island and the birds.
Experts were called in from three national oiled bird rescue organizations, and a rehabilitation center was set up at United States Environmental Services LLC in Venice.
There, birds were tagged, photographed and given a dose of electrolytes as they were brought in to help stabilize them before the oil could be removed, Fortier said.
"Otherwise, washing can shock them and kill them," he said.
A series of baths, with a mild solution of water and dishwashing liquid, are used to dissolve and remove the oil, then the birds are placed under warm air dryers.
Fortier said about 50 percent of birds usually survive after being rescued. "There are a lot of variables," such as how much oil the birds ingest and how quickly they are given help, he said.
Because of their age, many of the oiled birds will be hand-raised in captivity for weeks, he said. They won't be released until they are able to fly and to fish for themselves.

"They will hold them at an as yet to be determined facility in the Venice area," he said.

As rescuers captured birds Wednesday, others were becoming oiled when they moved into the marsh, he said. "The birds use it as a water source," Fortier said.
Workers were planning to erect a fence around the marshy part of the island to try to keep birds from going into oiled grass, Fortier said.
Cleaning up that oil will be the next phase of the operation after the birds are gathered, he said.

"I don't know how long that is going to take," Fortier said.

Biologists are hopeful the birds will have time to re-establish their nests and raise more chicks on the island this summer. Nesting lasts up to three months, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Charlotte Parker said.
Last year, West Breton Island reached a high of about 7,000 brown pelican nests and had a total of 9,000 nests for the nesting season, Parker said.

But about 45 percent of the island was destroyed in the fall by Hurricane Ivan, and there were fewer nests this year, she said.

Sandra Barbier can be reached at sbarbier@timespicayune.com or (504) 826-3836.

Posted on Thu, Jun. 16, 2005
Saving birds is expensive, painstaking

VENICE, La - Throughout the day Wednesday, deliveries of oiled brown pelicans and white pelicans were transported from West Breton Island to this seaside community for cleanup and medical treatment.
Feathers of the birds, saved from the oily waters of Breton Sound, poke out of air holes in the boxes as rehabilitation workers remove them for cleanup.
Tropical Storm Arlene caused 15 barrels of light-grade oil to spill from an Amerada Hess offshore oil platform southeast of New Orleans. The spill was discovered Sunday and is estimated to have oiled at least 1,000 birds at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife refuge at West Breton Island. Of the nearly 600 recovered from the island, 124 have died during rescue.
For the wildlife rehabilitation crews, saving the birds is a race against time. To save them, workers must feed and medicate the birds before washing away the slick coat of black oil on their feathers and bills. All this must be done before effects of dehydration, skin irritation and other problems related to contamination take their toll.
The brown pelicans, placed on the endangered species list after pesticide contamination reduced their population in the 1950s and 1960s, were the most affected victims.

The United States Environmental Services, LLC building along the highway became a hub for bird cleanup. The building's large warehouse was converted into a maze of plywood cubicles where birds were medically stabilized and gently cleaned feather by feather with Dawn dish soap. Large fans drowned out the sound of squawking pelicans and circulated air faintly smelling of the soap and oil.
"The challenge that any oiled animal faces is first whatever environmental condition that is going on at the time," said Heidi Stout, a veterinarian and Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research's oil program director. "It's very hot, which is a challenge for any animal. There is a tremendous amount of effort put into the capture of the animal and bringing them back... It takes tremendous manpower, resources and veterinary, construction and hot water supplies to treat these animals and that's difficult to do in a remote situation, so we're located here where it is centralized."
The long-term rehabilitation could take several weeks, as workers identify and monitor more birds. Wildlife rehabilitation workers say one of the biggest challenges to saving these birds has been keeping them cool.
"The flip side of this is that usually birds cannot keep themselves warm when they have oil on their feathers, but in this heat these animals cannot keep themselves cool," Stout said.
Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research, a nonprofit organization based in Delaware, is one of three groups working to stabilize and rehabilitate pelicans affected by the spill.
On Tuesday, Houston-based Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education was in Venice to clean the birds. Today, California-based International Bird Rescue and Research will be working to do the same.
Stout said oil contamination on birds can lead to severe skin irritation dehydration. If ingested, the oil causes problems in the birds' GI tract, liver and kidneys, Stout said.
The pelicans rescued Wednesday were mostly juvenile brown pelicans. Because the juveniles have shorter feathers, they are more likely to suffer skin irritation and get oil in their bills.

A preliminary estimate of 400 birds dead had been released but no hard numbers on the number of birds that have died has been established.
"There are birds dead on the island, but we do not have a hard count," said Byron Fortier, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service supervisory park ranger.
On Tuesday, 90 of more than 250 birds removed from the island died, said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Cheri Ben-Iesnu. On the island, Coast Guard officials have coordinated environmental cleanup and wildlife rescue.
Coast Guard Commanding Officer Frank M. Paskewich said substantial progress was made in the last few days in cleaning the oil spill and saving wildlife. Cleanup crews are now working with absorbent pads to remove the light-grade crude.
Frontier said the next step is cleaning deposits of oil on the land and near the nesting areas. A company called Polaris, a group of science advisers to private companies, is working with Amerada Hess and is scheduled to be on the island today to evaluate cleanup on land.
West Benton Island, which celebrated its centennial last year, is the second oldest wildlife refuge and its rookery is the largest brown pelican refuge in the state. Hurricane Ivan reduced the size of the small island, which has restricted access by air and water.
http://www.sunherald.com/mld/sunherald/11905444.htm By: Quincycollins44@aol.com

Cleanup launched after deadly oil spill
400 pelicans killed in Breton Sound

Wednesday, June 15, 2005, by Mark Schleifstein, The Times-Picayune Staff writer
Officials from several federal and state agencies scrambled on Tuesday to deal with a small but deadly oil spill in Breton Sound that is blamed for killing at least 400 brown pelicans and oiling 1,000 more at a rookery on West Breton Island. (NB: This is America's second oldest wildlife refuge, protected in 1904, home to three endangered and threatened species: Brown Pelican, Least Tern, and Piping Plover. For info on the refuge, visit the US Fish & Wildlife site: <http://www.fws.gov/breton/>)

Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research, a nonprofit organization, is setting up a "bird city" in Venice, where oiled birds will be washed and allowed to recuperate, possibly for as long as 18 weeks, said Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Cheri Ben-Iesau.

A bird veterinary team from the University of California-Davis also is en route to the area to help. Amerada Hess has set up a command center in Slidell to coordinate efforts of federal, state and cleanup contractors, Ben-Iesau said. A group of 75 people is expected on the site today, up from 60 Tuesday, she said.

Ben-Iesau said the oil spill was discovered Sunday morning when workers returned to Amerada Hess' Breton Sound 51 Platform, which had been evacuated in advance of Tropical Storm Arlene. The platform is about 60 miles southeast of New Orleans.

The company estimated about 560 gallons, or about 15 barrels, of oil had leaked from a piece of equipment on the platform. A team of Fish & Wildlife Service and Coast Guard officials conducting surveillance around the spill later that day discovered that some of the oil washed onto West Breton Island, covering shoreline and marsh grasses in addition to the birds.

The rookery, which is in Breton National Wildlife Refuge, has been a linchpin in a successful 20-year effort to rebuild the state's brown pelican population, which was decimated by the use of pesticides like DDT in the 1950s and 1960s.

The Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator's Office, the Coast Guard and other agencies are overseeing the cleanup of the spill. Amerada Hess has hired three companies to do the cleanup.
The Coast Guard was tracking the spilled oil from the air, and its Marine Safety Office New Orleans is investigating the cause of the release.
. . . . . . .
Mark Schleifstein can be reached at mschleifstein@timespicayune.com or (504) 826-3327.

June 15, 2005 01:17 PM
Nearly 100 pelicans dead in Breton Island oil spill
NEW ORLEANS — The U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Amerada Hess Corp. are working together today to cleanup an oil spill and recover impacted wildlife at a rookery on West Breton Island near the mouth of the Mississippi River.
More than 75 people are on scene to recover the released oil and to aid in the recovery of the affected wildlife. Containment boom and absorbent pads have been deployed on site and the Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research, the Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education, and the International Bird Rescue Research Center have established a rehabilitation site in Venice to care for oiled birds.
Workers recovered 281 brown pelicans, 90 of these birds have died. Officials expect to recover another 600 birds today. Initial reports indicate 400 to 1,000 birds have been contaminated.
"We are deeply concerned about this unfortunate incident and we are taking all possible steps to respond," said Gerald Bresnick, vice president, Environment, Health and Safety for Amerada Hess. "We will continue to work closely with all federal and state agencies to mitigate this situation as quickly as possible."
A restricted zone has been established for aircraft and vessels; aircraft are not permitted within five miles of the site and vessels within two miles.
The U.S. Coast Guard was notified of the oil spill Sunday morning when workers returned to an Amerada Hess operated platform that was evacuated in advance of Tropical Storm Arlene. An estimated 560 gallons of oil was released.
The incident is under investigation.



Pelicans Return to N.D.'s Chase Lake

By JAMES MacPHERSON, Associated Press Writer, June 18, 2005
Marsha Sovada, a biologist at the U.S. Geological Survey's Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, said the adult pelicans are "acting perfectly normal -- just as they were before last year's event."
Long-range video surveillance cameras and extra crews are monitoring the pelicans, and fences and signs have been installed to keep out predators and people.
Medina, a town of about 330 people about 15 miles south of Chase Lake, has an image of a pelican painted on its water tower.
Bradley Moser, the city operations manager, said the pelicans' disappearance last year has lured more bird watchers to the area this year.
He said it's easy to spot pelicans as they fly from the refuge searching for food. One had to be shooed out of town, for fear it may have snapped at a child, he said.
"Everything seems back to normal, by George," Moser said. "They're back and wandering around all over. And they look healthier this year -- their feathers seem brighter."

Biologists count more than 18,000 white pelicans at Chase Lake
James MacPherson, Associated Press
BISMARCK, N.D, Jun. 10, 2005, Biologists have counted more than 18,000 adult white pelicans at the Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge, a year after thousands of them mysteriously left.
Dave Bolin, a refuge manager at Chase Lake, in central North Dakota, said Friday that an aerial survey showed 18,850 breeding adults and 9,425 nests. Biologists estimate two adults per nest.
The survey was taken the day after Memorial Day. To come up with the numbers released Friday, the biologists hand-counted the dots on photographs taken in the survey.
Nearly 28,000 birds mysteriously abandoned the refuge last summer. Biologists say they may never know why.
They have suggested it might have been due to some kind of disturbance or predator at the nesting grounds, or a natural process of dealing with overpopulation.
"Maybe under the current set of conditions, Chase Lake can't support 30,000 pelicans," said Ken Torkelson, a spokesman for the federal Fish and Wildlife Service. Others believe predators may be to blame, he said.
"There is certainly some division, and we haven't been able to rule out either the natural correction or the disturbance theory," he said.
Before last summer's exodus, the 4,385-acre Chase Lake refuge in central North Dakota had been known as the home of the largest nesting colony of white pelicans in North America. The big birds weigh up to 20 pounds, with a wingspan of nearly 10 feet, measuring six feet from bill to tail.
The refuge population of white pelicans never reached the 10,000 mark during the 1970s, and it has exceeded 20,000 birds only since 1998, Torkelson said. The birds now have returned from their wintering grounds on the Gulf Coast to nest.
"Everybody close to this issue is encouraged by the way things are going there," Torkelson said. "We have 18,850 American white pelicans doing what they normally do."



Jun 8, 2005
It's a tale of two species - one thriving, while another is slowly disappearing. It's a problem that has wildlife biologists baffled and searching for answers. We traveled to Soda Springs, to an area on the Blackfoot River, for a look at how these two species are responding very differently to changes within the same environment.
Fish and Game has turned off their fish trap. This year, they caught only 14 cutthroat trout. Fisheries Biologist Dave Teuscher says a primary reason is the drought.
"As the fish migrate up to the Blackfoot River to spawn, a lot of them are unsuccessful because the tributaries that they normally have good success in, they don't have good success in, and so less juvenile production, very difficult for the fish to even migrate out of the reservoir."
But while one species is floundering, another is soaring high. In 2001, nearly 5,000 cutthroat were trapped. Since then, their numbers have plummeted. Meanwhile, pelican numbers have gone from near obscurity to 1,400 pelican nests counted this year on Gull Island.
"That's incredible, that expansion. Why that's happened, we really don't know for sure. What we do know is drought is a good thing for pelicans, because their primary food source is fish and when those reservoirs recede, that shallow water is how they feed."
Teuscher says you can't draw causation from the pelicans, but the fact remains, there isn't a viable population of cutthroat in this area. So what now?
"The first option - wait and see for another year or two and see if they can respond. Hopefully, we will get the same kind of spring we had this year and they can rebound on their own. If that doesn't happen, if we don't see that in the next year or two, then we'll have to take steps - either go to a hatchery program, go with another stock of fish. And I guess there's always the 'do nothing' option, but I don't think that the sportsmen of Idaho would go with that."
Earlier this year, Fish and Game placed bird lines across the Blackfoot River to protect fish from pelicans. Teuscher says that experiment worked based on two factors. First, they took about half the fish they caught from the trap and placed them into the reservoir to see if they could swim back to the trap. All but one did. The second, the Utah sucker fish population jumped from about 1,000 caught in past years to four or five times that this year.


Endangered pelicans swoop into bay in search of a meal

June 7, Santa Cruz — California brown pelicans have returned to the Monterey Bay, wowing beachcombers with acrobatic divebombs to snag shimmery fish.
Onlookers have reported the birds up and down the Santa Cruz County coast. Many say a fresh fish dinner is probably bringing them in.

The pelican has been on the federal Endangered Species Act list since 1970.
"There’s a school of bait in the bay," most likely anchovies, Gilda Stagnaro said from behind the counter at Gilda’s Family Restaurant on the Municipal Wharf.
A member of a longtime fishing family, Stagnaro recalled when pelicans sunned themselves on the wharf, and when visitors to the Sport Fisher coffee shop in the 1960s fed the birds crackers out the window.
Pelicans rarely visit the wharf anymore, Stagnaro said; the ones spotted recently are the first she’s seen in months.
Some years, she said, schools of bait fish are so big they attract not just pelicans, but four different types of gulls and sea lions, too.
"Sometimes the water is churning with all of them," Stagnaro said.
Professor Jim Harvey at Moss Landing Marine Lab agreed the birds have probably stopped in for a bite to eat.
This year has been late as far as productivity in the ocean, Harvey said, noting the number of juvenile rockfish appears to be especially low.
"A lot of seabirds are suffering from lack of food," he said, and these feathered friends are probably in search of it.
They’re in luck. As ocean upwelling kicks in, Harvey said — meaning warmer water is drawn away from the shore and replaced by colder water below — more food for birds should arrive, too.

Contact Genevieve Bookwalter at gbookwalter@santacruzsentinel.com.



Sunday, June 05, 2005
Worst 'red tide' in years strikes South Bay wildlife
Experts say algae bloom and its rusty aftereffect are killing shallow-water fish but not sea lions -- or humans. (And there have been no reports of pelicans or other seabirds affected, as of 6/5, — pelicanlife.org.)

By Scott Martindale
Daily Breeze
One of the worst "red tides" to hit the Los Angeles County coastline in recent years has left boat cleaners without work, swimmers stranded on beaches and scads of fish dead.
Red tide, a naturally occurring ocean phenomenon, is caused by excessive growth of algae, which turns the water brownish-red about once a year. Since it showed up May 28, red tide has kept many beachgoers confined to the sand and made it impossible for divers who clean the underside of boats to see through the murky waters.
The overabundance of algae also contributed to the deaths of hundreds of fish in King Harbor Marina in Redondo Beach on Wednesday. The fish, starved of oxygen, floated to the surface and left a rancid smell in the air for days.
"The smell was so bad that I had to stay inside," said Frankie Greco, 29, of Lomita, who spent Wednesday night in his boat docked at the marina. "I shut all the windows and doors and lit some candles."
The rapid growth of red algae in recent weeks has caused ocean bacteria, which feed on the tiny plants as they die, to multiply exponentially. As the bacteria use up limited supplies of oxygen in shallow waters such as King Harbor Marina's, many smaller fish such as garibaldi and red sea bass suffocate.
"If you're a fish living in the harbor, you're out of luck," said Giancarlo Cetrulo, director of the Los Angeles Conservation Corps' S.E.A. Lab in Redondo Beach.

Although the dead fish -- easy prey for seagulls and crabs -- were all eaten by Friday, the red tide might not clear for weeks.
Michael Aaker, dockmaster at King Harbor Marina, said this year's red tides were among the worst he has ever seen.
"This is the first time I've seen it kill so many fish," said Aaker, who has worked at the marina for 15 years.
Despite the off-putting color of the ocean water, the algae are not dangerous to humans.
The red tide phenomenon also has been implicated in the recent deaths of beached sea lions, but experts say a separate act of nature is at work.
At least eight sea lions have been poisoned by a brain toxin -- domoic acid -- produced by algae; these algae, however, are different from those that cause red tide, said Peter Wallerstein, a marine rescuer for the Whale Rescue Team.

The algae killing the sea lions are eaten by fish, which pass the poison up the food chain to the sea lions. The toxin leads to seizures and paralysis in sea lions, while the fish are unaffected.
The simultaneous appearance of the red algae and the sea lion-killing algae is coincidental.



Aerial look points to fewer pelicans
By RICHARD HINTON, Bismarck Tribune, June 4, 2005
Although a hard count still is being crunched, Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge's population of American white pelicans appears to be down from recent record highs of more than 30,000 birds.
"We pretty much confirmed what we were seeing from the ground. You can tell they are down a little bit from the boom years," said Dave Bolin, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service operations specialist at the refuge northwest of Medina. "We haven't compiled a count yet, so I'm reluctant to throw out any numbers."
Bolin, the USFWS representative conducting a pelican nest count during a Tuesday aerial census, also flew the 2003 and 2004 Chase Lake pelican censuses.
"There weren't as many as the first time I did it (in 2003) when we had the boom years," he said by telephone Friday from the refuge. "When I flew in 2004, they already had started their abandonment."
That mysterious disappearance of Chase Lake's estimated 30,000 adult pelicans last spring is one reason the large, white migratory birds remain the center of so much attention this spring after they returned to their longtime nesting grounds.
The adult pelicans, which pulled out of Chase Lake over several weeks, abandoned chicks and eggs last spring, leaving puzzled scientists sorting through a maze of possible explanations.
The pelicans, which in the past had nested on three islands and a peninsula at Chase Lake, have avoided the peninsula so far this year.
"The islands look close to what they had in the past, but that's just off the top of my head," Bolin said. "The missing nests on the mainland north shore really cut down on the numbers."
The 2003 census counted 6,000 nests on the peninsula, Bolin said. Each nest represents two adult, breeding pelicans. Total nests counted in that 2003 census were 14,747, putting the breeding adult population at 29,494.

Tuesday morning's flight, which originated out of Jamestown, took about an hour, Bolin said.
"We try to fly over (the nests) as quickly as we can, creating the least disturbance as possible," Bolin said. "As flights go, it's about as easy as it gets."
Bolin photographed the nesting grounds as the plane passed over the pelicans, which seemed to be at ease with the buzzing aircraft.
"I didn't see any type of disturbance with the birds," he said.
Worried about possibly spooking the pelicans, the observers have been extremely careful about not disturbing the pelicans this spring. They have used spotting scopes positioned on the mainland to check on the birds. When they wanted closer looks, they paddled to the islands in a canoe rather than using a motorized boat.
The weather was good for Tuesday morning's flight, Bolin said.
"There was a high ceiling and little overcast. The wind was minimal and not a factor. It was a pretty good flight."
U.S. Geological Survey staffers at the Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center in Jamestown are doing the counting, using a computer program. In the past, summer employees at the refuge sorted through aerial photographs and counted all of the black dots, which represent individual nests.
Not only do the computer and program have to be set up, but there have to be trial runs to make sure the program's estimates are accurate, Bolin said.
Chase Lake's pelican population has hovered near the 30,000 mark since a record high of 17,733 nests were counted in 2000. Those numbers made the Chase Lake pelican colony the largest in North America.
And that high pelican density may be one reason that the pelicans pulled out last year.

Biologists favor a "natural correction" theory for why the pelicans abandoned their nests, Bolin said.
"There was a surplus population for the carrying capacity (of the nesting sites)," Bolin explained. "Whether it was the food supply or the cold, wet spring, somehow the birds thought in their best interests that it was time to leave."

(Reach reporter Richard Hinton at 250-8256 or outdoors@bismarcktribune.net.) http://www.bismarcktribune.com/articles/2005/06/04/news/local/nws02.txt


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