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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.

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November, December 2005

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A Wildlife News page!!!

Reward offered for info about California Brown Pelican mutilation

2004-5 Archives | About pelican pouches | Bakersfield, CA. white pelicans | Chile oil spill | | Indian pelicans | | Katrina and barrier islands | | | | White Pelicans over Massachusetts |

Pelicans flocking to Bakersfield

A lone pelican swims with dozens of coots Thursday in the recharge basin on Allen Road.

Casey Christie/ The Californian

Pelicans in Bakersfield?
It’s true. Hundreds of the birds recently showed up on recharge ponds at the Rosedale-Rio Bravo Water Storage District on Allen Road.
Experts say they’re American white pelicans — a freshwater species native to Kern County.
But the large, orange-billed beauties nevertheless stunned district employees as well as Allen Road drivers.

“The whole pond was covered,” Angela Andreesen said Thursday, peering through windows of the water district’s tiny office on the west side of Allen, just south of Brimhall Road.
Andreesen, an administrative assistant who has worked for the district for 17 years, had never seen the pelicans before.
Neither had General Manager Hal Crossley, who first noticed the flock when he returned from a water conference in San Diego earlier this month.
Crossley estimated 250 pelicans were hanging out on the ponds last week.
Recharge basins are full this winter for the first time since 1998, he said, thanks to good rain and snow levels.

In dry years the basins shrivel up, almost resembling deserts, Crossley said.
The water storage district owns about 1,400 acres of recharge basins that snake west from the office.
On Thursday, about 30 or 40 pelicans remained, said Elmo Martinez, an operations and maintenance worker whose job keeps him close to day-to-day life on the ponds.
“They’re amazing birds,” said Martinez, who urged people not to shoot them — something that’s already happened.
“I’ve buried three or four already,” he said.
Naturalist Alison Sheehey of Weldon, who schedules Christmas Bird Counts around the state, said the white pelicans are native here. They used to nest at Buena Vista Lake, she said, but haven’t bred on the valley floor since the 1940s due to loss of habitat. Some now nest at Lake Isabella.
“As long as there’s water they’ll come back down here because this is their historical grounds,” Sheehey said.

They also migrate from northern California, Montana and Canada, she said, along with many other water birds.
“This is a huge wintering area,” Sheehey said.
The recharge basins off Allen Road are likely teeming with new-pond goodies such as insects, shrimp and fish, Sheehey said, making them a good feeding spot.
Ted Murphy, a retired Cal State Bakersfield biology professor, said there’s not much standing water around these days.
“It probably looks pretty good from the air,” he said of the recharge ponds.

Freshwater pelicans feed differently than their ocean-going cousins, said Krista Fahy, a bird expert at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.
“They catch food sitting on top of the water,” Fahy said. “They don’t plunge and dive.”
They also prefer shallow water; the recharge basins are an average 6 to 10 feet deep.
The birds are probably causing a stir here, she said, because people aren’t used to seeing them at the ponds.
“They’re really big, cool birds,” she added.


By GRETCHEN WENNER, Californian staff writer, e-mail: gwenner@bakersfield.com
Posted: Thursday December 22nd, 2005, 6:15 P - Last Updated: Thursday December 22nd, 2005, 6:40 PM


Pelicans found dead in Kukkarahalli Lake
Mysore, Dec. 14 (KCU)- It is observed that pelicans, the rare variety of birds, which are on the brink of extinction, are dying in Kukkarahalli lake here.
In the backdrop of innumerable birds succumbing to bird flu abroad, the death of rare species of local birds, has caused anxiety among nature lovers. In fact, there has been a sharp decline in the number of migratory birds arriving in India.
Kukkarahalli lake after a bit of modernisation recently, is a favourite spot for nature lovers. The sight of two dead pelicans floating near the West Bank dampened the spirit of the na-ture lovers.
Few days ago a rare variety of bird was also found dead near a bush on the bank. A pelican was found dead in Karanji lake too.
Zoo officials had sent the carcass of the bird to forensic laboratory for testing. It was heartening to learn that the death was not due to bird flu. It had died after consuming fish living in sewage water. No case of bird flu had been reported in the State, according to Zoo Executive Director Manoj Kumar.
Preserving Pelicans is the primary responsibility of everyone. Mysore University is yet to ascertain the cause of the death of the pelicans in Kukkarahalli.http://www.starofmysore.com/searchinfo.asp?search1=8144&search2=newsheadlines


(This wonderful grant, aimed to help plovers and terns should have positive effects on the protection of Ventura County's pelicans :)

Grant to help protect county seabirds
By Zeke Barlow, zbarlow@VenturaCountyStar.com
December 9, 2005
Come springtime, when Western snowy plovers hollow out dimples in the sand along Ventura County's beaches to hatch their chicks, a volunteer will be sitting nearby, giving mini-lectures on habitat destruction and the value of keeping dogs on leashes.
And maybe, with gentle reminders of the birds' status, along with signs and fences keeping the curious away from nesting grounds, the plover as well as the California least tern will return to the beaches en masse, as they were long before the fate of the birds was in jeopardy.

On Thursday, the California Coastal Conservancy approved a first-of-a-kind grant to coordinate efforts in Ventura County to help protect the plover and tern, a federally endangered bird. Though a handful of groups has been doing similar work in in the area for years, this would be the first time a countywide, orchestrated effort would be made to protect the birds that were once thick along the Pacific Coast. The new program must work with existing groups already doing similar work.

The conservancy voted to give the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service $150,000 to hire a project coordinator, who will organize volunteers to monitor sensitive habitat on all of the county's publicly owned beaches. A similar program at Santa Barbara's Coal Oil Point Reserve resulted in a sharp increase in the number of birds on the beach, as well as an increased public awareness of the birds. The project was funded by a patchwork of donations and grants.

The Ventura County program, which officials are hoping will start as soon as the spring nesting season, will have docents posted at public beaches, where they will monitor nesting sites, keep people from stepping on eggs and educate the public. Predator cages will be placed over nests, temporary fencing put up, and information signs posted.

After Santa Barbara's program for plovers started on a single beach, populations in the winter went from 100 in 2000 to 400 last year, said Cristina Sandoval, director of the reserve. An added benefit came when the number of terns, which were not part of the project, also increased, she said. When the program started, only 2 percent of beachgoers knew what a plover is; now 98 percent know, she said.
"The idea for a coordinator for Ventura County would be great," Sandoval said. "I wish we had one in Santa Barbara as well."

Reed Smith, science chairman for the Ventura Audubon Society, said that, although local efforts by individual groups are good, a coordinator is needed. The person will help make sure the most sensitive areas in the region are getting the most attention.
"There is not enough of a unified effort," said Smith, a retired game warden. "We need a position to coordinate the efforts to get the landowners on board."
Habitat for Hollywood Beach, a conservation group, wrote a letter of support for the new program, saying, "there is a great need for increased on-the-ground education and habitat restoration and protection efforts."

The efforts to protect the coastal birds have not been without controversy. Environmentalists successfully fought to have paragliders banned from Ormond Beach because they contended the flights harmed birds. In October, the Oxnard City Council unanimously approved a ban prohibiting ultralight flying vehicles from taking off from anywhere but local airports.
Residents near Channel Islands Harbor protested the location of a proposed boating and safety center in part because of the plover habitat, but that site was ultimately selected.

The grant will last three years, at which time the project coordinator will be responsible for finding additional money to keep the project going, said Chris Dellith, senior biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
"I think this is extremely important," Dellith said. "It'll benefit the species and be able to give more attention to the species and lead to its recovery."



Fuel spill on Chilean coast
November 21, 2005
On 31 October at 01:00 AM, a cargo vessel ironically named EIDER, registered in Hong Kong, came aground on the rocky shores of Antofagasta City in northern Chile. A large amount of diesel was discharged into the sea, along with heavy mechanical lubricant hydrocarbons.
Around 7 km of coastal shore has been directly impacted by the resulting oil slick. The Chilean authorities have been preventing oil entering small bays known as "caletas", using floating booms.
Working with volunteers of the Wild Fauna Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre of the University of Antofagasta, a number of stricken seabirds and several migratory Franklin Gulls were captured, although access to the birds proved difficult.

In addition at least 80 oiled Brown Pelicans, several Gray, Band-tailed and Kelp Gulls, and Red-legged and Neotropic Cormorants have been sighted, but have not been rescued.
Peruvian Boobies are regularly feeding within the affected are but none have been recovered to date. Green Turtles Chelonia mydas were among the other significantly affected wildlife. Further casualties are expected.
Contingency action undertaken by the Chilean Navy to date has been limited to the use of floating booms and the application of dispersant and degreaser solutions, which while reducing oil at the surface has resulted in spreading it throughout the water column.
This stretch of coast is of global importance for Humboldt Penguins, Peruvian Boobies, Brown Pelicans, various endemic gull and tern species as well as three species of cormorant (Guanay, Neotropic and Red-legged Cormorant).
For further information please contact Carlos Guerra Correa, Director of the Wild Fauna Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre and CREA (Regional Center for Environmental Education, University of Antofagasta, Chile), email: director.crea@uantof.cl


Pelicans' pouches let them gulp both water, food

Brown pelicans are a familiar sight along Southern coastlines, diving from high in the air and crashing into the water after fish. Pelicans do not spear their prey, but open their mouths and envelop the fish in their expandable pouches.
When they do this, though, the pouch can also take in more than 2 gallons of water. How is it possible that the force of these collisions does not break the bird's beak or pouch membrane?
A recent study <http://www.cooper.org/COS/107_2/107_2cont.html> in the journal Condor by Ron Myers and Rene Myers of Weber State University provides a partial answer. They found that the long bones of the lower jaw, the mandibles, bend when they meet the water's resistance, much as an archery bow bends under pressure.
This bowing occurs because some sections of the mandibles contain less calcium than others, creating distinct zones that allow the bones to flex without breaking.
The zones also lack the air spaces found in most avian long bones, thus creating areas that are more bendable. Solid rods can flex where hollow tubes might break.
These adaptations allow brown pelicans to grab pouchfuls of water along with their meals, despite the forces involved in dives from great heights.
David Allen Sibley, Chris Elphick and John B. Dunning Jr.

Posted on Thu, Nov. 17, 2005


Birds: November vagrants, reverse migrants
November 10, 2005; Story & Photo By E. Vernon Laux

(fascinating long article about fall migration visitors on the East Coast; hope these unusual visitors were heading south:
... Last week three white pelicans flew over Wellfleet Harbor on Outer Cape Cod as well. ...


Hurricane Katrina Damaged 19 Wildlife Refuges
WASHINGTON, DC, November 7, 2005 (ENS) - Assessments are still taking place, but nine weeks after Hurricane Katrina smashed the Gulf Coast, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service chief says it is clear that more than 150,000 acres of coastal and bottomland wetlands in the National Wildlife Refuge System were damaged by the storm.
Chief Dale Hall told the Senate Committee of Environment and Public Works on Wednesday that 19 national wildlife refuges were affected by Hurricane Katrina, 16 of them on the coast.
"The area impacted by Hurricane Katrina has one of the largest concentrations of national wildlife refuges in the country due to the important coastal wetlands in the region," said Hall. "Coastal marshes in the Mississippi River delta and the parishes south of New Orleans, and the marshes of southwest Louisiana, were hard hit by winds, surge, and saltwater from Hurricane Katrina."
Coastal forested wetlands ranging from eastern Lake Pontchartrain Basin to the Pearl River were defoliated and sustained heavy damage to standing trees, Hall said.
"In many areas," he said, "extensive timber damage has removed potential nesting trees for bald eagles and other birds. Noxubee National Wildlife Refuge in Mississippi and Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana lost a significant number of trees, including cavity trees used by roosting and nesting red-cockaded woodpeckers. Tree loss also will impact foraging habitat for these endangered birds."
The Service has received reports of substantial mussel and fish die-offs. "Aquatic ecosystems and fish communities may have been severely impacted by contaminant releases, sedimentation, loss of spawning habitat, and disruption of migration," Hall told the committee members.
About 50 sea turtle nests along the Alabama coast were lost, including all 10 nests at Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge.
Primary dunes, which are habitat for the Alabama beach mouse, have been destroyed, said Hall. In addition, 90 percent of the secondary dunes were destroyed and scrub habitat was damaged by salt spray from the ocean. Both habitat types serve as food sources for the beach mouse and it is likely their population will be reduced from the effects of both Hurricane Katrina and last year’s Hurricane Ivan.
Up to 15 percent of the world's brown pelicans and up to 30 percent of the world's sandwich terns nest in Southeastern Louisiana, and especially in Breton National Wildlife Refuge, Hall explained to the lawmakers.
"Breton, which is part of the Chandeleur Islands and celebrated its centennial last year, lost 50 to 70 percent of its land mass due the effects of Hurricane Katrina," Hall said. In addition, Mississippi Sandhill Crane, Big Branch Marsh, Delta, Bogue Chitto, and Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuges suffered significant impacts, he said.
The Service is currently working to assess Hurricane Katrina’s full impact on the area’s natural resources, some of which may take some time to become apparent. Such impacts include the spread of exotic species facilitated by the storm, ecosystem changes, and the effects of contaminant releases.


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