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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.


January-April, 2006

Click here for 2005, pelican news

We're more than pelicans; check out the Wildlife News section!

2004-5 Archives | Callawassie Island, SC | Channel Islands NP - SB Island closed | Chandeleur Islands | Chase Lake research budget woes | Chase Lake research on pelican mystery | Chase Lake pelicans return and More Return | Cormorants in Green Bay, WI | domoic acid | domoic acid and LA video | Edwards AFB rescued pelican | effects of 2005 FL storms | Goleta "Bird Island" | Illinois | Lake Tahoe, CA | No. Carolina pelican needs ride to Miami! | Oregon | Pelicans on Parade in Oregon | population migration | Quad-City | S. Carolina | West Nile in Montana | White Pelicans in Illinois | Wyoming

(click photo for larger image)
photo by Tony Brown who was in charge of the Bird Island project for BP/Richfield

"Bird islands," essential roosting platforms off Goleta, California, being checked out in December by some California Brown Pelicans.

Photo provided by Sally Bromfield.

Pelicans make surprise visit to Tahoe
April 29, 2006
Birders: Quick, grab your cameras and head to Lake Tahoe.
Early Thursday morning about 20 American white pelicans were spotted on Buck's Beach in Crystal Bay.
The pelicans, listed by the California Department of Fish and Game as the highest priority species of special concern - a step below an endangered species - were perhaps making their way north to their familiar nesting ground along the Oregon border.
That they're stopping in the basin for awhile is both perplexing and a pleasant surprise to local birders and ornithologists.

"They seem to go right over the Bay Area, over Tahoe/Truckee and down into the (Pyramid Lake) region and on up," said Deren Ross, an Auburn resident and president of the Sierra Foothills chapter of the Audubon Society. "I just think they don't put down very often in Tahoe. For them to do this is pretty unusual."
Ross said the birds, as a general rule, like open bodies of water with large beaches.

"Tahoe's a wooded place," he said. "Because it's been an exceptionally wet year and the beaches aren't as prevalent makes their arrival even less normal.
"It's possible to see white pelicans on nearly any body of water along their migration route, but the North Shore of Lake Tahoe is not as common as the other local lakes and reservoirs. It's quite possible that they need to rest or that they were looking for a good area to fish."
Last year about this time, the birds were seen on the South Shore. Ornithologist Bruce Webb of Granite Bay said he cannot recall having seen the birds in the Lake Tahoe Basin.
"I know they (migrate) through the area, but as far as seeing them specifically on the lake, I cannot recall any sightings," Webb said.
Indeed, the occurrence of the birds setting down in the North Shore is a rare one at best according to the book "Birds of the Lake Tahoe Region" written by Robert T. Orr and James Moffitt.
"The spring migration route of White Pelicans is from inland valleys or sea coast of central California to its Great Basin breeding grounds and passes over the Tahoe region," a passage reads.
William Dawson, author of "Birds of California" described the prehistoric-looking birds in flight as "a flying circus, in the days before human imitations had made their appearance."
By Andrew Pridgen; http://www.theunion.com/article/20060429/NEWS/104290193


Wildlife viewing; April 28, 2006
Oregon Coast: ... Brown pelicans are on the move all along the coast.
Oregon Statesman; http://tinyurl.com/fkkp2
More pelicans arrive at Chase Lake Wildlife Refuge
Between 7,000 to 8,000 American white pelican nests at Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge mean 14,000 to 16,000 pelicans have returned, researchers estimate.
Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey's Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center in Jamestown checked the island nesting colonies last week, said Ken Torkelson, a spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Bismarck office.
"There may be eggs, but they didn't want to get too close," he said Tuesday.
The migratory white birds are expected to continue arriving for another month, researchers figure.
That's good news for Chase Lake, which has had its pelican populations pull out prematurely the last two years. In 2004, adult pelicans vanished, abandoning chicks and nest. Last year, a chick die-off prompted the adults to leave their nests.
- Richard Hinton http://www.bismarcktribune.com/articles/2006/04/26/news/local/113736.txt
Brown pelican down: Natural Resources performs rescue
Blackanthem Military News, EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., April 25, 2006 16:46
Mark Hagan, Edwards' Natural Resources manager, attends to an injured, rare brown pelican on Edwards Air Force Base April 12. The pelican was transported to the California Wildlife Center in Calabasas, Calif., for rehabilitation. (Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Julius Delos Reyes)

This was no wild goose chase.
To the contrary, when Mark Hagan chased down and caught an injured brown pelican April 12, it struck at the heart of his duties as Edwards' Natural Resources manager - protecting the base's natural resources.
Rare everywhere, the brown pelican - federally listed as endangered - is almost never seen anywhere but coastal areas. This is the first sighting on record of a brown pelican at Edwards.
"You just don't expect to see a brown pelican in the desert," Mr. Hagan said.
By contrast its cousin, the white pelican, is plentiful, and its habitat includes not only the coastal areas, but much of the interior of the United States.

The injured pelican was spotted by workers at the Base Information Transfer System parking lot. It was not trying to evade people the way wildlife most often do, and it had a length of fishing line and sinkers still attached, dangling from its beak. The workers supposed the bird had a fish hook stuck somewhere down its throat or stomach. So they called Mr. Hagan, who caught the animal without too much effort, which Mr. Hagan said is a sign that all was not right with the bird. The bird was taken to a wildlife rehabilitation center where doctors say the prognosis looks good for a full recovery and a return to the wild.

Mr. Hagan said his first task was to evaluate the nature and extent of the pelican's injuries.
"It didn't have a broken wing, and other than the fishing line, I couldn't see any obvious injuries," he said. "It let me get within a few feet, but if I made a move to pick it up, it would flap its wings a bit and move a few yards away."
A healthy bird would take flight long before anyone got close, he added.
According to the California Wildlife Center in Calabasas, Calif., where the pelican was taken, the bird is believed to have suffered from some illness, possibly red tide poisoning, in addition to its obvious problem - the hook, line and sinkers.
"They said the pelican may have gotten red tide poisoning, which left it disoriented, and it flew inland instead of staying in its habitat area," Mr. Hagan said.

Red tide poisoning comes from algal bloom in the ocean. A few types of algae, often with red pigment, contain toxins which can poison animals that directly eat the algae and on up the food chain, resulting in a string of deaths for aquatic life. Most species of algae are harmless to people and animals.
Swallowing a fish hook with a length of attached line is a fairly common injury to pelicans. It can cause death, but that most often happens when the line is long and becomes entangled in tree limbs, ensnaring the bird until it starves," Mr. Hagan said.
Mr. Hagan caught the bird with a towel and the aid of a couple of workers who were on hand. Once the bird was captured, Mr. Hagan consulted with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for a recommendation on what course of action to take. They recommended the bird be taken to a rehabilitation center.
"They didn't feel the bird's chances of survival would be good unless it was taken to a rehabilitation center," Mr. Hagan said.
The bird rescue didn't come without drawbacks - the pelican transferred a good number of pelican lice to Mr. Hagan.
"The people from the wildlife center asked if I was covered with pelican lice. They were chuckling when I said I was," Mr. Hagan said. "They also said the lice would wash right off, and any that didn't would be gone in a couple of days. They only survive on pelicans."

By Gary Hatch, 95th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Note: The pelican went to IBRRC; it did not survive.


The Pelicans' brief visit
Birds take up residence at Nelson Lake

By Michele du Vair
BATAVIA — On Easter weekend, Michael Sedwick, an avid photographer, packed up his camera and enormous lenses and made his way to one of his favorite places, the Dick Young Forest Preserve in Batavia.
After gathering up his gear, he walked the short distance from the parking lot to the preserve's overlook of Nelson Lake Marsh, and there he saw what birders have been observing since late March — dozens and dozens of pelicans.
"I've never seen so many pelicans," says Sedwick. "At least not in this country."
"They're magnificent birds," he said of their black-tipped wings and 110-inch wingspan. "I never even knew they were here."
The birding community is all aflutter at the sheer number of pelicans stopping by Nelson Lake Marsh this spring. Bird enthusiasts counted as many as 145 birds, up from a previous high of about 30 to 40, says Bob Andrini, president of the Kane County Audubon Society.
"I really don't have an explanation as to why there are so many pelicans this year," Andrini said. "I think it's just a matter of they told someone, who told someone, who told someone."
Kind of like the bird enthusiasts who've come out to see them, he added.
"They told two friends, who told two friends."
American white pelicans were first seen in Kane County in 1994, out at Carson Slough in Sugar Grove. They first came to Nelson Lake Marsh four years ago, according to John Duerr, former longtime director of the Kane County Forest Preserve. He said the American white pelicans, not to be confused with the coastal brown pelicans, are inland birds which are a part of the Mississippi flyway, one of the four major migratory routes in the U.S.
"My suspicion is that there are probably some of the same birds in this flock that were here from the beginning," said Duerr. "We humans always underestimate the intelligence of birds and the fact that they can find their way to this exact location from thousands of miles away."

Lee Provencher of St. Charles, a member of the local Audobon Society, heard about the abundance of pelicans this year from fellow members.
"Thank God we've got people in the Audobon watching birds. They spot them and tell everyone else where they're at," he said.
Provencher and his wife, Judy, noted that the shallow waters of the Nelson Lake Marsh are filled with an abundance of fish that are easy pickings for the travel-weary pelicans. And they pointed out other birds that frequent the marsh — like the great blue herons, the sandhill crane and, more recently, the rare osprey that was seen snagging a fish from the air.
"This really is the jewel of the county," Provencher mused. "We've got to grab as much land as we can near here before the builders get a hold of it."
04/19/06 http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/beaconnews/top/2_1_AU19_PELICANS_S1.htm

And as of 4/20, they're gone.

The pelicans are gone now, after last weekend's final burst of wowing visitors to Dick Young Forest Preserve in Batavia. That's nature for you; what's here today may be gone tomorrow.

And the problem with birds, as a bird-watching veteran at the preserve's Nelson Lake recently pointed out, is that they have wings.

But 234 species of birds have been sighted in the Dick Young Forest Preserve. So even if the pelicans are gone, your binoculars will get a workout.

The star guests lately at this birding hot spot were American white pelicans. Their swan song over the weekend found flocks of them floating on the lake--large, snow-white birds sporting that trademark pouch of a bill.
They had an audience Saturday. "There's the show," said Jon Duerr, retired executive director of the Kane County Forest Preserve District, nodding toward the water.
We had liftoff. Bird by bird, dozens of them took off, flying in circles that rose into the sky.
"They catch a thermal and just go right up into the air," said Duerr, who had been visiting frequently and posting pelican updates on the Illinois Birders Exchanging Thoughts listserve.
For the last four years, pelicans have stopped at Nelson Lake on their way from southern Illinois, Texas or Louisiana to their summer homes in western Minnesota, North Dakota and Canada. Usually they arrive on March 31; this year, they were first spotted on March 29.
They come for the food. Non-native carp and goldfish have multiplied abundantly in Nelson Lake, providing a bountiful buffet. The pelicans chow down for one or two weeks--last year, they stayed for 12 days--then fly north.

It's always a highlight for the birders, but the pelicans this year have been special.
The numbers have been "astronomical," said Duerr, who one day last week counted 145 pelicans on the lake.
The observation platform looked like a news conference, with tripods lined up. Birders were out with their spotting scopes, field guides and bird lists for the show that had yet to lose its fascination.
Maybe more pelicans will show up, Duerr said; there are still more of them in the south, and they need to migrate north.
Published April 20, 2006, Barbara Brotman <http://www.chicagotribune.com/travel/chi-0604190323apr20,1,2679757.column?coll=chi-homepagetravel-hed>


April 15, 2006
Toxic algae off W Coast US is killing off brown pelicans
April 2006-- San Pedro, CA -- Pelicans are falling victim of the same toxic bloom of ocean algae that's sickening sea lions and also making shellfish unfit for human consumption, wildlife rescuers said Wednesday.
More than forty Brown Pelicans have been taken to the International Bird Rescue Research Center in San Pedro in the past week, 18 of those dead on arrival and the rest receiving treatment. Many more are dying in the wild, either at sea or on inaccessible jetties, center officials said.
A neurotoxin produced by the algae makes its way up the food chain to the pelicans and marine mammals and can result in seizures and death for the wildlife. Meanwhile, the state Department of Health Services issued a warning against the consumption of certain sport-harvested mussels, and parts of anchovies, sardines, lobsters and crabs. The shellfish and fish are unfit for people and their pets due to the toxic algae bloom.

April 11/12: Domoic acid poisoning is affecting the California Brown Pelican in Southern California, the LA Basin and Ventura County, especially. Here's a link to an LA CBS video site, two videos, with interviews with personnel at IBRRC. The segments on the pelicans are available by writing in "pelicans" (without the quotes) on the Browse Video Search box.

Pelicans being poisoned by toxic algae bloom in waters off LA
Posted on Thu, Apr. 13, 2006 Associated Press

LOS ANGELES - Pelicans are falling ill and dying from the same toxic algae bloom that is sickening sea lions and making shellfish unsafe for human consumption, wildlife rescuers said.
More than three-dozen endangered California brown pelicans have been taken to the International Bird Rescue Research Center in San Pedro during the past week. Eighteen were dead on arrival, and many more are dying in the wild, center officials said
The pelicans and marine mammals are being sickened by a neurotoxin called domoic acid, which is produced by the algae and works its way up the food chain. Poisoned pelicans are flying farther than usual inland, dropping from the sky and suddenly flipping on their backs on the ground.
"They become very disoriented, they fly in different directions, they even fall out of the sky," Jay Holcomb, the research center's executive director, said Wednesday. "Yesterday we got one out of a parking lot in San Pedro."
The state Department of Health Services also has warned that the algae is making it unsafe for people to eat certain sport-harvested mussels, and parts of anchovies, sardines, lobsters and crabs. Human consumption of seafood contaminated with domoic acid can cause illness, and severe cases can be fatal.
The first signs of domoic acid poisoning started appearing in February among sea lions.
Peter Wallerstein of the Whale Rescue team, which has taken in scores of sickened mammals, described the pelican poisonings as a crisis that deserves the same government attention as an oil spill.
"These are protected animals," he said.
Information from: Daily Breeze, http://www.dailybreeze.com


Pelicans return to Chase Lake refuge

Pelicans are returning to Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge near Medina, N.D.
The refuge is one of the largest nesting grounds for the birds in North America.
Thousands of pelicans have abandoned the refuge in the last two years, leaving many chicks to die. U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials said West Nile Virus, bad weather and predators like coyotes have hurt pelican numbers.
Marsha Sovada with the U.S. Geological Survey said there was only a four percent mortality among pelican chicks before West Nile Virus. Now, West Nile is causing 30-50 percent mortality, she said.

"So those are the birds we expect to fledge and hatch. And they're the ones we are losing," she said. "The ones we should see enter the population are the ones we're losing because of West Nile."
Sovada said they are predicting 10,000 nests and 20,000 birds this year in Chase Lake, similar to what happened in 2005.
"They're not all back yet. This is just the first wave that comes in," she said. "They arrived last Wednesday in good numbers. They probably have eggs on the ground right now - a few nests."

Wildlife officials said pelican populations at Chase Lake have ranged from more than 6,000 adults in 1974 to more than 35,000 in 2000.
See also: http://www.bismarcktribune.com/articles/2006/04/11/news/local/113055.txt


Lowcountry island certified as wildlife habitat

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. - Callawassie Island, an 880-acre sea island between Beaufort and Hilton Head Island, has been certified as a National Wildlife Federation Community Wildlife Habitat.
It's the first such community in South Carolina and only the 15th nationwide to receive the designation.
Home to just 500 year-round residents, Callawassie also is home to a number of endangered species, including wood storks, West Indian manatees, short-nosed sturgeon and brown pelicans.

The Community Wildlife Habitat aims to create sustainable landscapes that require little or no pesticides and fertilizers. It also incorporates community projects such as stream cleanups, removing invasive plants, and plant and wildlife rescues.
Sara Green, director of education for the South Carolina Wildlife Federation, worked with island resident to win the designation.
Green said the biggest threat to wildlife is loss of habitat due to development and pollution.
"Hopefully, this will inspire other communities throughout the state to be part of this as well,"
Green said.
Information from: The Island Packet, http://www.islandpacket.com, Posted on Tue, Apr. 04, 2006


Pelicans make annual Q-C stop-By Mary Louise Speer, Quad-City Times

The American white pelicans are vacationing high on the hog before heading up river to their nesting grounds in the north.
People are invited to view the birds through spotter scopes set up at Lock and Dam 14 near Pleasant Valley from 8 a.m. to noon today during the second annual Quad-Cities Pelican Watch. The two-day event began Saturday morning with viewings of the pelicans along the Mississippi River.
LuAnn Haydon of Hampton, Ill., spotted groups of pelicans “kettling” while driving along U.S. 84 in Illinois. “They were all in a line and when they turned, they all turned like the Blue Angels. Kettling is a circle pattern that they do and they come of this into a straight line. They don’t (fly in a) V,” she said.
There’s plenty for these water fowl with black-tipped wings to do while hanging out at Lock and Dam 14 and farther on down the Mississippi River. The birds adore body-surfing in the frothy water coming off the dam and eating their version of sushi in the small fish that frequent shallow waters. Afterward, there’s nothing like a romantic flight together with their mate or hobnobbing with dozens of friends and relatives on an island.

“They seem to only eat live fish. My guess is they eat three to five pounds a day,” said Don Bardole, a park ranger with the Mississippi River Visitor Center. “If I were to eat a third of my body weight a day, I would be as big as a house. However, these birds live outside and it takes a lot of energy for them to survive.”
Occasionally, he fields questions from people uncertain of what these large white creatures are. Pelicans are larger than bald eagles with a nine-foot wing span and they circle their prey like wolves before eating, he said.

Until the late 1980s, most pelican sightings happened in the western part of Iowa. The birds only have been migrating through for the past six to eight years and the numbers are swelling, he said. About 200-300 are winging through the area this year. Bardole has no idea why they have shifted their migratory path.
“Wildlife will simply do what they need to do to survive,” he said. “Some people are hoping they will begin nesting on the Upper Mississippi.”
Telling which pelicans are ready for the mating rituals which will lead to eggs and chicks is simple. Many of the birds this year have small humps on their beaks, which indicates their inclination for parenthood, he said. Telling males and females apart is more difficult for humans, he said.

And then there is Pelican Pete. Pete, so named by LuAnn Haydon and Joe Taylor of the Quad-Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau, who has an injured wing. Because of that, he has been seen along the downtown Moline riverfront with a band of ducks. He seems to appreciate the simple life of fishing, sleeping and swimming.
Hayden and her husband, Kirk Haydon, first saw Pete several months ago and she tried to find a wildlife rehabber who could care for the bird. But it would have cost about $2,000 to keep him supplied with fish. So, LuAnn settled for keeping an eye on him. As of Thursday, she said Pete was doing fine. “We’ve seen him preen and paddle his way up and down the river,” she said.
The city desk can be contacted at (563) 383-2245 or newsroom@qctimes.com.



...Trouble in the Gulf of Mexico
In other news, I was just looking at a frightening photo gallery of Louisiana’s Chandeleur Islands, which is part of the Breton National Wildlife Refuge. This USGS webpage shows some photos of these critical bird nesting islands (gulls, terns, and Brown Pelicans, among others) before and after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. This is from the the April Birding Community E-Bulletin (which we post onto the Bird News page of our website):
“The refuge is now fast-disappearing. In November of last year, the head of the USFWS, Dale Hall, in testimony to the Senate reported that "Southeastern Louisiana, and especially Breton National Wildlife Refuge, is globally important for colonial nesting birds. Up to 15 percent of the world's Brown Pelicans and up to 30 percent of the world's Sandwich Terns nest in this area.
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."
”This is particularly dramatic since the refuge previously had the largest tern colony in the U.S., at one time ranging upward of 90,000 terns (mostly Sandwich and Royal) in the mid-1990s. By 2005 the colony had declined to about 25,000, even before Katrina. “
”More than 12,000 Brown Pelicans were found in the island chain as recently as 2002, but by the middle of 2005 numbers were reduced by half. Other nesting birds of interest in the islands include Reddish Egret, American Oystercatcher, and Snowy Plover. The islands are also an important location for wintering Piping Plovers and serve as a stopover site for songbirds in spring - at least where they are vegetated. It is no accident that the islands have been designated as a globally significant Important Bird Area (IBA).”
”What are the current nesting implications for 2006? While it is still too early to tell, the loss of habitat after Hurricane Katrina certainly isn't going to help.
”Posted by Derek Lovitch, an avid birder and the owner of the Wild Bird Center in Yarmouth.at 04/02 http://outdoors.mainetoday.com/naturewatching/fieldnotes/005350.html


Cormorants are having a major impact on the local perch fishery, some research shows. Sport and commercial fishermen have long suspected double-crested cormorants played a role in declining yellow perch populations on Green Bay.

After two years of research that saw the stomachs of 976 cormorants analyzed in a diet study by University of Wisconsin graduate researcher Sarah Meadows, they may have the ammunition they need.
Or do they?
Even though a new model by the state Department of Natural Resources suggests the cormorant colony on Cat Island in southern Green Bay may have consumed some 6 million to 9 million yellow perch in the past two years, Great Lakes fisheries specialist Bill Horns said it's not clear how that affects the perch population.
Using 25 years of data and a complex energetics model, biologist Matt Mangan of the Peshtigo DNR office is trying to figure out whether the birds are taking advantage of a record hatch of perch in 2003.
Meadows found the Cat Island colony ate fewer but larger perch in 2005. The greatest number found in stomachs of birds killed in the past two years were 21⁄2 to 5 inches long, likely the 2003 year class.
While perch were most often eaten by cormorants in 2004, gizzard shad was the top meal last year, and round gobies — No. 4 behind spottail shiners in 2004 — moved up to third.
About two-thirds of the 436 birds killed two years ago contained prey; last year, 83.3 percent of the 540 shot by U.S. Department of Agriculture wildlife services personnel had prey — 21 species in all.
Meadows will continue her research this year.
The state also will begin a control program in which cormorant eggs on four islands — Cat and three in northern Door County — will be oiled to prevent them from hatching."
"Up to one-third of the consumption is by the chicks," Horns said. "We think just by egg-oiling, we can have an impact."
Joe Grant of Kewaunee said while that's a step in the right direction, he believes adult cormorants should be thinned out, too. Grant said he sees large flocks diving in the Kewaunee harbor after trout and salmon are stocked each spring.
"The state spends our (salmon and trout) stamp money to hatch and care for these fish, only to have a large percentage of them become cormorant food," Grant said.
Dan Farah, a Green Bay chiropractor who owns Sand Bay Lodge and Cottages in southern Door County, said cormorants invade the bays and harbors each spring.
"The water is so low and clear, the fish are all spawning in the little bays and harbors and (the cormorants) just sit there and peck at 'em all day," he said.
Dick Sickinger of Fox River Bait & Tackle in Oshkosh said he sees hundreds of cormorants on inland waters spring and fall, especially on the west end of Lake Butte des Morts.
"Last fall, I saw flocks of 50 to 200 or so birds, four to six times a day," he said.
There is no money available for cormorant research outside lower Green Bay, Horns said. The first two years of the study cost about $80,000, he said, with money coming from natural resources damage settlements paid by Fox River paper companies.
Cormorants can live longer than a decade, Meadows said. There are an estimated 12,000 breeding pairs in Wisconsin, including 2,000 or so on Cat Island.Avid birder Tom Erdman, curator for the Richter Museum of Natural History at UW-Green Bay, said he believes record perch harvests by sport fishermen in 1990 and 1991 played a large role in reducing future catches.
"That 50-limit, 100-possession era is what really crashed yellow perch," Erdman said. "At the same time, zebra mussels and white perch appeared and exploded. If you look at the trawl data, the low point in yellow perch encounters occurred five years after the massive winter sportfishing harvest."
That, he said, is a classic example of overharvest, with the expected time lag showing reduced numbers from more than six million fish killed before they could spawn.

Meanwhile, perch have made a comeback despite having cormorants present. Erdman believes that's due to limited ice fishing opportunities since the late 1990s, with poor ice conditions and reduced limits allowing more of the adult females to survive.
Anglers should also consider the positive value of the millions of pounds of rough fish and exotic species eaten by cormorants that compete with and feed on perch eggs and larval young, Erdman said.
Though he doubts controls will greatly reduce cormorant populations, if that should happen, Erdman believes there will be unintended and unexpected effects on other fish species, including game species.
"Gizzard shad and round gobies may well be the future," he said.
Though the DNR model suggests the Cat Island birds alone have been catching as many or more perch as the combined sport and commercial fisheries in recent years, Erdman said it's not applicable to the other colonies in the upper bay as the diet is different. Past samplings of regurgitated prey showed alewives dominating.
He believes egg-oiling and any possible lethal control of adults down the road is a political decision.
"They'll do controls, perch will increase and chaps will say, 'See, it was them cormorants,'" Erdman said. "It's a waste of money as far as I'm concerned."
Erdman said the CEOs of the paper mills must be scratching their heads, since environmental damage money from PCB settlements is being used to fund the study.
"First they are charged millions of dollars for damaging the birds, and now the DNR is going to use the money to kill them," Erdman said.

Erdman wonders how long it'll be before anglers ask for controls on white pelicans, which are larger, consume more fish and have increased in number from 6 to 600 pair in a decade.
"The DNR won't want to touch this, because there would be an uproar by the public," he said.


Pelican proposal up in the air
By RICHARD HINTON, Bismarck Tribune
A report and recommendations on learning more about American white pelicans is in Sen. ByronDorgan's hands, but what happens next probably won't be known for another month or longer.
"The president is proposing budget cuts for the Fish and Wildlife Service, so they will have less money," the North Dakota Democrat said Thursday.
The 2007 budget proposes a $33 million cut in the budgets for the USFWS and U.S. Geological Survey, the two leading federal agencies in monitoring the pelican nesting colonies on the northern plains. The proposed cut is about 2 percent,
Dorgan said.
The report was prompted following mass abandonments of adult pelicans at Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge in 2004 and 2005. The ranking Democrat on the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, Dorgan ordered the pelican report following last year's pelican exodus from the federal refuge near Medina.

Representatives from the USFWS, the USGS and other federal and state agencies convened a pelican conference in January, which said that West Nile virus was a significant cause of pelican mortality at breeding colonies in the northern plains, but researchers added that West Nile is not the only thing impacting pelican populations.
The 2004 Chase Lake pelican pullout occurred too early to be attributed to West Nile, a report addendum said, because the exodus happened before the emergence of the mosquito species that carries West Nile. There are at least five possible causes for that abandonment, including another disease, severe weather, depredation and disturbance by predators, human disturbance, reduced food sources or a combination of those factors, researchers said.

"Who knows if there were strange and unusual patterns or if we will know a cause or if the cause is accurate," Dorgan said. "Probably only time will tell us some of those answers."

West Nile was responsible for up to 40 percent pelican chick mortality at two other colonies - Bitter Lake NWR in South Dakota and Medicine Lake NWR in Montana - in mid-July 2004, the report noted. West Nile first was noted in young pelicans in 2002.
The documentation of West Nile in pelicans is especially significant because the disease is not known to cause wide-scale mortality in the young of any other avian species, the report said.
"The long-term impact of this disease on the regional and possibly continental populations of pelicans could be devastating," the report said.

The pelican summit also resulted in a series of recommendations that went to Dorgan:
3 Conducting a population assessment of white pelicans in the United States and Canada.
3 Continuing surveillance for West Nile virus and immunity development in the population.
3 Assessing productivity.
3 Continuing and expanding banding activities.
3 And continuing on-going monitoring and support.

Hearings in the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, which includes USFWS and USGS, are under way, Dorgan said.
"That's the time in which to ask questions about plans and what they intend to do and what resources are necessary to do what we expect them to do," Dorgan said.
Although breaking the bank for pelican research is not in the cards, "we need to continue the important research," Dorgan continued. "There have been serious questions raised about the health of the pelican colonies. I think the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should proceed and continue its research."
Dorgan said he expects to have some answers in a "month or two."

Pelicans typically begin arriving at Chase Lake in April. Biologists expect them to return again this spring, Dorgan added.
Until the abandonments, the Chase Lake colony was believed to be the largest in North America.
Among the recommendations for Chase Lake are estimating pelican productivity with aerial photos taken in late May to obtain a nest count and in August to estimate numbers of young birds. If funding is not available for the second flight, number of young will be estimated by conducting ground counts.
Researchers also plan to band approximately 2,500 birds with number and color bands in July. Researchers also will document activity and pelican behaviors on the nesting grounds with video and direct observations to evaluate factors that might influence productivity.

The USGS will put three more satellite GPS transmitters on adult pelicans in 2006 - eight transmitters were deployed on adult pelicans in 2005. Researchers also will monitor the colony for mortality events related to disease and weather, and a sample of dead birds may be sent to the USGS National Wildlife Health Center for evaluation.
(Reach outdoor writer Richard Hinton at 250-8256 or richard.hinton@;bismarcktribune.com.) http://www.bismarcktribune.com/articles/2006/03/27/news/local/112230.txt


Board expected to declare 3 islands for the birds
The Post and Courier
The state Budget and Control Board is expected today to designate three critical shorebird rookeries in the Lowcountry as sanctuaries.

The board will vote on a reworked Natural Resources Department proposal for Deveaux Bank, Crab Bank and Bird Key.
"It was pretty clear the Budget and Control Board was not going to pass it as it was," said John Frampton, Natural Resources director.
The board now proposes allowing tidal beach access year-round at Deveaux Bank, the biggest nesting ground of the three islands.
The original proposal virtually would have closed the publicly owned islands that are habitual stops for boaters, except for opening tidal beaches when birds aren't nesting. The other two will be off limits during nesting season. Dogs won't be allowed on any of the three.
The islands are three of only five protected rookeries in the state for sea and shorebirds such as brown pelicans, royal terns, oyster catchers, black skimmers, snowy egrets and least terns. They also have become rest stops for boaters and those who love to party. Biologists suspect human and dog intrusion is contributing to a decline in the numbers of those birds.

Deveaux Bank in recent years has produced more nests than the other two combined. Crab Bank, the 16-acre island at the mouth of Shem Creek in Charleston Harbor, is the most heavily used by people and dogs.
Surf fishermen and others like the isolated, open oceanfronts of 35-acre Bird Key at the Stono River inlet between Folly Beach and Kiawah Island, and 215-acre Deveaux Bank between Seabrook and Edisto islands.
After the February DNR board vote, three Charleston-area residents who have property in the estuaries south of Charleston, and whose families have long used Deveaux Bank, began an e-mail campaign and approached the legislative delegation to maintain their access.
Reach Bo Petersenat 745-5852 or bpetersen@postandcourier.com.

DNR reconsiders ban on boats on one uninhabited sea island

Published Saturday, March 18, 2006

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - The Department of Natural Resources Board has decided to let picnickers and fisherman keep coming by boat to an uninhabited sea island.
Officials in the agency wanted to ban boaters from three islands from Oct. 15 to March 15, but Friday agreed to a compromise to allow people to keep coming to Deveaux Bank, near Edisto Island.
The ban remains for Crab Bank in Charleston Harbor and Bird Key, a 10-acre island between Folly Beach and Kiawah.
DNR said it needed to ban boaters from the islands to protect birds like brown pelicans, whose buried eggs sometimes get stepped on by people and dogs.

The number of brown pelican nests in the state dropped to 2,631 last year from a high of nearly 8,000 in the late 1980s.


Pelicans land at local lakes

By Scott Richardson, srichardson@pantagraph.com
HUDSON — With long pointed bills sporting pouches that stretch when filled with fish, the flock of American White Pelicans might look more natural at the seashore than the plains of Central Illinois. But, the pelicans seem right at home this week during a stopover at the city of Bloomington’s two water reservoirs, Lake Bloomington and Evergreen Lake, in northern McLean County.
Mike Steffa, operations supervisor at Comlara Park/Evergreen Lake, said the birds first appeared on Tuesday.

"It’s really nice to see them there," said Dale Birkenholz, a bird expert and professor emeritus at Illinois State University. He chairs the stewardship committee for the John Wesley Powell chapter of the Audubon Society based in the Twin Cities.
The flock, which numbers more than 25, would have been far from their normal migration path as recently as 10 years ago. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, a national authority on bird science, still doesn’t list Illinois on the route pelicans would normally take from wintering grounds along the Gulf Coast to spring nesting grounds on prairie lakes in the northern United States and southern Canada.

But, pelicans, apparently don’t read maps. Since the late 1990s, the birds which reach 5 feet long with wingspans of 8 feet have extended their range eastward into Illinois, Birkenholz said. Thousands of pelicans now crowd the Illinois River each spring and fall. Some have spent recent mild winters along southern sections of the Illinois River, and some appear to be spending summers there.

Why pelicans changed their flight path is unknown.
"Sometimes they do that, their range waxes and wanes," Birkenholz said.

The cause may be discovery of a new food source, he said. Pelicans are fish eaters, often cooperating in the task by surrounding fish in a circle to concentrate baitfish before dipping their head to catch them. Sometimes, a migration route changes when they find new places to nest. Though they’re not known to nest in Illinois, pelicans might do just that in the near future as they did for the first time in Minnesota last year, he said.

Other bird species, such as White-fronted geese and Cackling geese, have been seen more often in Illinois recently, he said.
Though no study has centered specifically on White Pelicans, Given Harper, an ornithologist who chairs Illinois Wesleyan University’s biology department, said other research has cited global warming as a cause for recent changes in the life cycles of plants and animals and the migration routes of some birds. Last year was the warmest on record.
"That’s just speculation, but some birds are nesting earlier, flowers are opening sooner, and there are changes in the distribution of organisms," Harper said.


A Few signs of spring appear
By CHRIS MICHELSON, Special to the Star-Tribune

It is that time of year when one starts to look for signs of spring. There are a few, but only a few.
As usual at this time of year most birding is associated with open water and thus with waterfowl. A tour down to Glenrock earlier this month produced a few interesting birds. There were three adult trumpeter swans on a frozen pond about three miles east of the Natrona/Converse county line along the old highway.
At the Dave Johnson power plant there were the usual ducks. American widgeon are increasing in numbers and there were also several canvasbacks. Most unusual were the presence of two American white pelicans. This species has wintered here in the past, but still is unusual.
The Lusby fishing access on the North Platte River between Casper and Alcova is a place where one may find waterfowl. Present this weekend were three trumpeter swans. These are different from those mentioned above, since one of these birds is a juvenile and those above were all adults. Also present were common goldeneye, common merganser, mallard, green-wing teal, American widgeon and northern pintail.
One possible sign of spring was the presence of a great blue heron. This species sometimes will winter over in this area.
At Grey Reef Reservoir there was a more certain sign of spring -- a group of six mountain bluebirds. All were males, which is normal at this time of year. Also present were common goldeneye, common merganser, mallard, gadwall, American coot, bufflehead, lesser scaup, canvasback, ring-neck duck and pied-bill grebe.
Unusual species were at least six Barrow's goldeneye males with some number of females. Also present was a hooded merganser. One majestic adult bald eagle was checking the flocks of ducks for injured birds.



Updating: Pelicans on Parade (POP!) in Klamath, Oregon has expanded with its own web site. The White Pelican is the "mascot" of the city of Klamath Falls and is celebrated in the southern Oregon city. Proceeds from the POP! project will be used by Klamath Wingwatchers, Inc. for educational projects, including those in partnership with community nonprofits and art groups that promote birding and appreciation of natural resources in the Upper Klamath Basin. Some fine pelican sculptures pictured; check them out and more at http://www.pelicansonparade.com/

See the February 19 San Diego Tribune article about domoic acid, posted here, in the Wildlife News section


Nesting pelicans close Santa Barbara Island
Anna Davison, SB News-Press staff reporter — February 15, 2006 12:00 AM
Endangered birds would abandon nests if disturbed

Santa Barbara Island will be closed to the public through May 31 to protect a breeding population of the endangered California brown pelican.

This season, the birds are nesting on and near the trail that connects the landing dock with all other parts of the island, according to the National Park Service. If disturbed, pelicans on the island would abandon their nests for the rest of the season, the agency says.
The Channel Islands are home to two of the three primary pelican breeding populations on the West Coast. Each year, the birds build from 400 to 700 nests on Santa Barbara Island, the Park Service says.


Medicine Lake mosquitoes reveal more West Nile secrets
February 13, 2006 -- By Evelyn Boswell, MSU News Service

BOZEMAN -- Mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus and live at the Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge feed on birds first, then move on to large mammals like cattle, deer, horses and humans later in the season, according to Montana State University researchers.
Entomologist Greg Johnson and graduate student Kristina Hale trapped mosquitoes all over Montana last summer, but concentrated much of their efforts at the northeast Montana refuge which lost more than 1,000 pelicans to West Nile virus in 2003. Besides the bird-mammal sequence, they found that the mosquitoes prefer the blood of mourning doves over any other bird.

The Culex tarsalis mosquito is the primary species that carries West Nile virus in Montana and mainly flies between 10 p.m. and 1 a.m., Johnson said. Its favorite resting spot are wind breaks made up of trees, grass and shrubs. Females of the species need blood for energy and egg development. Males drink nectar instead of blood for energy.

Johnson started researching the relationship between mosquitoes and West Nile virus in 2003 when the virus killed four Montanans and 70 horses besides the pelicans. Last summer in Montana, West Nile virus was found in 26 humans, nine horses and 17 counties. No deaths occurred. The first mosquito that tested positive for the virus was found July 25 in western Montana, Johnson said. The first human case was discovered Aug. 5. The first horse case was found Aug. 6 and the first chicken on Aug. 18. The chickens were part of the MSU research project. Ten of the human cases occurred in Custer County.
Hale used three techniques to capture mosquitoes at the Medicine Lake refuge. Specifically looking for female mosquitoes that had dined recently on blood, she said the best method involved fiberboard pots that had been painted black and set around the refuge.
"It was very specific," Hale said.

Johnson and Hale sent the blood they collected to a USDA laboratory in Laramie, Wyo., where researchers analyzed the blood and determined that the female mosquitoes fed on blood from robins, pelicans, sharp-tailed grouse, pheasants and mourning doves. The mosquitoes generally fed on birds from late June through much of July, then shifted to mammals in August.

"A mosquito feeds on a bird and picks up the virus," Johnson said. "After several days, the mosquito is infected and infects a bird when it takes another blood meal. This process where mosquitoes pick up the virus, then transmit it to another bird is called virus amplification. It continues through the summer and results in lots of infected mosquitoes as well as infected birds."
Mosquitoes can get the virus from birds and vice versa, Johnson added. But he believes West Nile is carried or re-introduced in Montana every year by migrating birds, possibly mourning doves.

Johnson and Hale also discovered that two mosquito species besides the Culex tarsalis -- the Culiseta inornata and the Aedes vexans -- carry West Nile virus. They rarely feed on birds, however. The Culiseta inornata captured at Medicine Lake strongly prefers cattle blood, while Aedes vexans has a strong preference for white-tailed deer. Montana may be in for trouble if a pathogen that uses cattle, deer and other ungulates is introduced in North America, Johnson predicted.
Funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will allow Johnson and Hale to continue their Montana research next summer. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has asked to include North Dakota and South Dakota in mosquito and virus surveillance studies in 2006, too, Johnson said. Pelicans have been dying at the Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge in North Dakota and at Bitter Lake in South Dakota.

In his Medicine Lake work, Johnson said he wants to figure out why so many pelicans died from West Nile virus when it wasn't the primary bird providing blood to the mosquitoes. Johnson also wants to pursue the role of migratory birds such as mourning doves as reservoirs for West Nile.
He'll try to find out the answers by possibly using pigeons, as well as chickens, Johnson said. Pigeons would simulate mourning doves, he said, because they are easy to use and maintain. They are also plentiful and about the same size as doves.
Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or evelynb@montana.edu



Ride Needed to Miami --- UPDATE: a ride was found!!!!
(CBS4 News/AP) MIAMI South Florida's newest resident is a young pelican named Stinky -- who was found starving and injured on a North Carolina beach, last month. Unlike most who come here -- Stinky showed up on a corporate jet!
The Pelican Harbor Seabird Station agreed to take him. The facility is surrounded by saltwater in the middle of Biscayne Bay, and should prepare Stinky for a return to the wild. But Stinky's problem was getting a free -- and stress-free -- ride that would allow him to eat while in transit.
Stinky is now 5 months old. He has an 8-foot wing-span and is learning how to eat on his own. If all goes well, he could be released in April.
January 22, 2006: http://cbs4.com/topstories/local_story_022183504.html

photo: Jennifer Gordon, ducklinglady@...

Hey, buddy, going my way?
January 15, 2006, by Diane Mouskouri, Daily News Staff

Stinky needs a ride to Miami - the sooner the better.

That sounds like a tall order. After all, who wants to be cooped up in a car with Stinky for 14 hours?
But in this case it's a mission of mercy. Stinky is a juvenile brown pelican that was found starving and injured on the beach in Surf City in December. Tony O'Neil, a wildlife rehabber with Possumwood Acres in Hubert has been caring for it ever since.
Almost since she received the bird, whose band indicates it was born in August, O'Neil has been trying to find a facility to take Stinky. She found the Pelican Harbor Seabird Station in Miami, and the executive director Wendy Fox has agreed to take the bird. Fox said the organization has received birds from as far away as Canada and New Orleans.
"We received 47 baby pelicans that were rescued after Hurricane Dennis," she said. "We specialize in eastern brown pelicans."
The facility is surrounded by saltwater in the middle of Biscayne Bay. There are wild pelicans all around.
"It's a great place to be a pelican," Fox said. "It's a great incentive to come down and rehabilitate here."
The facility often receives birds from North Carolina. But after pelicans have been around humans, it's hard to break them of the habit, Fox said.
"We're constantly finding pelicans with fish hooks in their beaks, so if a pelican associates food with people they'll always identify with that," Fox said. "Down here he will be in a pen with about 20 other pelicans (six of its kind) and learn how to be a pelican.
"It's all about getting them into the right place at the right time."

Going Stinky's way?
The facility is no problem. Hitching a ride for Stinky is. Stinky, by the way, got his name because of the smell associated with feeding him.
"When he first arrived on my doorstep he weighed a mere five pounds, about half what he should weigh," O'Neil said.
Since then the bird has gained about 3 1⁄2 pounds and has reached full growth with an 8-foot wingspan, she said.
"Pelican Harbor Seabird Sanctuary is the best place for Stinky now," O'Neil said.
But trying to find the bird a ride to his new home hasn't been easy. In fact, O'Neil has had no luck at all.
"I tried arranging a flight for the bird through Southwings, but they didn't have any pilots willing or able to go right now.
"I can't afford the cost of fuel reimbursement out of my own pocket for the trip either."
Southwings, a nonprofit organization in Asheville, is dedicated to conserving the natural resources and ecosystems of the Southeast -Florida, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, Kentucky and West Virginia. Volunteer pilots will transport injured animals when the need arises, O'Neil said.
"We need help finding someone willing to fly the bird down to Miami as soon as possible," O'Neil said.
"I've had him for four weeks, but he still needs further rehabilitation if he has any hope of surviving in the wild."
Flight would be the optimum solution to ensure that the bird is fed the way he needs to be during travel and to limit stress, O'Neil said.
"He is the sweetest bird," she said. "I'd keep him in a heartbeat if I could."
Points of contact
Possumwood Acres, 119 Doe Drive, Hubert, 326-6432.
SouthWings, 35 Haywood Street, Suite 201; Asheville, 28801; (800) 640-1131; or www.southwings.org

Pelican Harbor Seabird Station, (305) 751-9840 or www.pelicanharbor.bizland.com


In search of a place to land
By: Beth Gallaspy , The Enterprise
Population migrations due to hurricane devastation might not be over yet.
Southeast Texas bird lovers still are watching to see how the changed coastal landscape will affect feathered residents and frequent guests.
Hurricane Katrina could be as much a factor as Hurricane Rita.
The largest brown pelican colony on the Gulf Coast, about 10,000 to 15,000 pair of nesting birds, made its home in the Chandeleur Islands off the eastern coast of Louisiana, noted Winnie Burkett, sanctuaries manager for the Houston Audubon Society. The islands also were home to 10,000 to 20,000 pair of terns, she said. Three-fourths of the islands were swallowed in the storm.

"Where will all those birds wind up? It will be interesting to see," Burkett said by telephone.

If some of the pelicans decide to settle on the northern Texas coast, they would find a few thousand peers on North Deer Island, a Houston Audubon Society sanctuary in Galveston Bay that hosts the region's largest population of nesting brown pelicans each spring, Burkett said. That property, like the Bolivar Flats sanctuary on western Bolivar Peninsula, was outside the Hurricane Rita strike zone.
However, sanctuaries in High Island did not fare as well.
Hurricane Rita did not do as much damage in High Island as further east, but numerous downed trees means a little less room for the roseate spoonbills, egrets, cormorants and herons that settle at the rookery at the Smith Oaks sanctuary each spring.
"We're busy planting trees, and we're going to build some nesting platforms," Burkett said. "We probably won't have quite as many birds nesting there, but we'll have the same variety."

(409) 833-3311, ext. 425©The Beaumont Enterprise 2006


Storms in 2005 pummeled birds’ habitat
By Jeremy Cox
Friday, January 20, 2006
Hundreds of white ibises, great egrets and other wading birds winged their way to Henry Key, a tiny patch of red mangroves south of Marco Island, to settle down one night last October.
Before dawn broke, their world came crashing down. The trees where the birds had roosted blew down under the strain of Hurricane Wilma’s 120 mph winds, killing at least 95 of them.
The Oct. 24 storm was the last chapter in a catastrophic year for birds that nest on or near Marco Island, wildlife experts say.
Four hurricanes and one tropical storm brushed or hit Collier County in 2005. The violent waves and heavy rain drowned the eggs of beach-nesting shorebirds; winds inflicted deadly blows to wading birds.
Tales about birds sensing impending danger and taking flight before hurricanes are no more than tales, Below said. His findings prove it: If the ibises and egrets had known better, they certainly would have fled Henry Key, which was within a few miles of Wilma’s landfall.
Across the region, beach-loving birds defied the storm — and expectations.
The death toll was much lower for shorebirds such as piping plovers and brown pelicans. Below noted more than 5,000 shorebirds at Sand Dollar Spit before the storm and just 18 dead birds on the sandbar after the storm.

Among the dead, none were birds that forge a living from the harsh beach environment. The birds probably hid in footprints in the sand and behind sea oats as the storm passed, Below said.
But they didn’t escape hurricane season unscathed. The near-misses of Tropical Storm Arlene and Hurricanes Dennis, Katrina and Rita destroyed hundreds of their nests on the beach, making last year one of the worst for nesting in recent memory.
In his 30 years of bird monitoring, Below hasn’t seen anything like it.
“This year we had more wind and rain during the nesting season,” he said.
Black skimmers, a pointy-looking bird with a black body and red bill, produced 38 chicks, down from their usual output of roughly 200 to 300, Below said.
Least terns, a bird with silver wings and black crown that’s listed as a threatened species, fared even worse. The birds made about 400 nests from Marco Island to Cape Romano, and all were lost to the sea.
Are least terns in trouble?
“My professional guess would be no,” said Ricardo Zambrano, a biologist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission in West Palm Beach. He oversees the several state-protected bird habitats around Marco.
“Being a beach-nesting species, an over-wash comes with the territory. ... This has been happening for hundreds of years, and the species is still there.”
© 2006 Naples Daily News and NDN Productions. Published in Naples, Florida, USA by the E.W. Scripps Co.


Research tackles pelican mystery
Bismarck Tribune
Researchers will conduct a continent-wide census of the American white pelican population after a summit last week in Jamestown concluded there is much to learn about the long-necked, stubby-legged white birds.
"We have to learn more about them before we can effectively manage the species," Ken Torkelson, a spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Bismarck, said Wednesday.
Attending the conference were USFWS representatives from five states, the USDA Wildlife Services, the U.S. Geological Survey's Northern Prairie Research Center in Jamestown, the North Dakota, Minnesota and South Dakota game and fish departments, St. Cloud State University and the University of Regina.
The summit was prompted by mass pullouts of white pelicans from Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge north of Medina the past two springs and summers. The Chase Lake colony once was believed to be the largest in North America.
"They are not a game bird and they're not on the endangered species list," Torkelson said. "They are not a high priority."
There are an estimated 50 to 65 white pelican colonies in North America, but the last pelican census was done about 25 years ago, Torkelson added.
Researchers will conduct the census in 2007.
"Once we have that, we will know if there is a problem with pelicans in general or if there are problems at just a couple of colonies," Torkelson said.
Researchers also will continue and expand monitoring for the West Nile virus.
"At colonies we have been monitoring, we believe West Nile is claiming 50 to 60 percent of the young for past couple of years," Torkelson said. Female pelicans typically lay two eggs, but usually only one survives.

Researchers also will continue to band young pelicans. "The more information we acquire through banding, the better off we are," Torkelson said. They will concentrate on colonies at Chase Lake, Medicine Lake in Montana and Bitter Lake in South Dakota.
And they will sample some colonies to determine how many eggs pelicans are laying and how many chicks are surviving to fledgling.
The USFWS also is planning for the upcoming pelican season at Chase Lake NWR. Two observers will be on the ground almost daily; they will try to get on the water and on the nesting islands more frequently, and the predator fence will be put up again, Torkelson said.
"We're confident of some pelicans returning to Chase Lake," he added.
Data from the few Chase Lake pelicans that were fitted with satellite transmitters shows most migrated to wintering grounds in coastal Louisiana.
The summit's recommendations will be part of a report going to Congress next month. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., ordered the summit following last year's exodus of adult pelicans from Chase Lake.
(Reach reporter Richard Hinton at 701-250-8256 or richard.hinton@;bismarcktribune.com.)



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