November, December 2005
for August-September-October 2005, pelican news
offered for info about California Brown Pelican mutilation
Archives | About pelican
pouches | Bakersfield, CA. white
pelicans | Chile oil spill | |
Indian pelicans | | Katrina
and barrier islands | | | | White Pelicans
over Massachusetts |
flocking to Bakersfield
A lone pelican swims with dozens of coots Thursday in the
recharge basin on Allen Road.
Casey Christie/ The Californian
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,
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
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,”
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
“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
WENNER, Californian staff writer, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted: Thursday December 22nd, 2005, 6:15 P - Last Updated:
Thursday December 22nd, 2005, 6:40 PM
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
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 :)
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
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."
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
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: email@example.com
Pelicans' pouches let them gulp
both water, food
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
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.
on Thu, Nov. 17, 2005
November vagrants, reverse migrants
November 10, 2005; Story & Photo By E. Vernon Laux
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. ...
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
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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