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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 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.



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American White Pelican - National Geographic | Australian twins and pelicans | Baby Pelicans Starving Along Calif. Coast | Chase Lake pelicans return | Crucial time for pelican deaths | domoic acid cause of disorentation | Domoic Acid/"drunk" pelican crashes | ESA listing change for CA Brown Pelican | Fireworks and Texas pelicans | Flying under the influence | IBRRC at San Pedro influx of birds and at Cordelia | Katrina's effects on Brown Pelicans | Lake Tahoe pelicans | Lightning kills 49 Kenya pelicans | Lost pelicans in Yuma | manatees and pelicans | Monterey pelicans | Oil spill in Savannah River, Georgia | Oregon | Pelicans in Puget Sound | Prince Edward Island pelican | return to Prince Island | Salton Sea | San Luis Obispo: starving pelicans and June 23 | Santa Barbara pelicans | Savannah pelicans and oil spill | Shaq O'Neal of birds | Spot-billed | starvation the answer? | testing the waters | Texas fish kills -> pelican deaths | Tucson pelicans need help | videos_ Huntington Beach | white pelicans and trout |

Fish kill leads to bird casualties

Aug 29, 2006 06:39 PM

CORPUS CHRISTI - Those who have traveled out near Packery Channel lately can't help notice the stench from hundreds of dead fish. And the fish kill has led to another problem with low-flying birds.

The fish kill began last week, and Texas Parks and Wildlife officials said they believe this was a one-day event caused by low-dissolved oxygen. Precisely what caused that low-dissolved oxygen is still under investigation.

It could have been low winds one day last week or stagnant water that caused the problem. A Coastal fisheries staff member said all signs indicate the fish kill actually happened outside the Packery Channel.

Texas Parks and Wildlife will be out at the Packery Channel again Wednesday morning to make a determination. In the meantime, U.S. Fish and Wildlife is also concerned about some other casualties from the fish kill.

Pelicans are getting killed by passing cars on the 361 bridge, and Texas Department of Transportation has put up warning signs as a result. They're swooping down too low to feast on the fish.

At least seven brown pelicans have been found dead. Motorists should use some caution in the area. More information on the fish kill should be available Wednesday.



Bait Fish Attracting Porpoises To Cove Near Seaside
By Kristian Foden-Vencil
PORTLAND, OR (2006-08-23) People on the North Oregon coast are reporting unusually large numbers of porpoises, pelicans and gulls.

Staff at the Seaside Aquarium estimated Tuesday that about 100 harbor porpoises arrived in a cove close to the shore.

Aquarium manager, Keith Chandler, says people really enjoyed the show.

Keith Chandler: Most likely they were there feeding on anchovies. We've been seeing large schools of anchovies just off shore. They just gathered in an area where the public could get a good look at them.

Some scientist suspect a cold up-welling in the ocean has pushed more nutrients than usual to the surface, which in turn has attracted anchovies and herring.

Porpoises, gulls and pelicans then feed on the small bait fish.

Other clusters of sea life have been seen in Seaside, Cannon Beach and elsewhere. All the species are native, but observers say they've never seen this many at once.

© Copyright 2006, OPB http://publicbroadcasting.net/opb/news.newsmain?action=article&ARTICLE_ID=958360&sectionID=1


A Sign of Things to Come?
August 21st, 2006Al Gore warns in his movie An Inconvenient Truth that global warming threatens to leave much of Manhattan underwater. Now bird watcher Ken Emerson is saying that global warming is already causing strange things to happen — like that manatee that people have been seeing around town lately.

One manatee has evidently given up on Florida — where manatees generally summer — to hang out around the yacht clubs in Westchester. Manatees are not native to the area, but scientists have said that it is within the realm of possibility that this one decided to swim here from the south.

“In this the manatee is not alone,” writes Emergson. “A quarter of a century ago, brown pelicans were as rare in this neck of the woods as, well, wolverines. Now the state bird of Louisiana cruises the coasts of New Jersey and Long Island every summer, skimming over the water in single-file troupes.”

So Manhattan may be underwater eventually, but we may be overrun with strange, tropical animals first.
Compiled by Joshua Brusteinhttp://www.gothamgazette.com/blogs/wonkster/2006/08/21/a-sign-of-things-to-come/


3 Million Fish Die In The Salton Sea
Clean-Up Efforts Are Underway
(CBS) SALTON SEA, Calif. About 3 million fish died in the Salton Sea over the last week and clean-up crews were using pumps and tractors to scoop the decomposing fish out of the water, it was reported Monday.Environmental Recovery Solutions crews were pumping up the fish while biologists from the state Department of Fish and Game watched to assure that no endangered species were harmed, The Press-Enterprise reported.

The fish die during the summer when triple-digit temperatures rob the salty lake of oxygen. But local officials said this is one of the largest ever die-offs in the Salton Sea.Flocks of brown pelicans, an endangered species, call the sea home. The sea also has more than 400 bird species and is a major area for migratory birds.It's unknown how much the cleanup will cost. Using nets and rakes to collect the fish did not work because the task was too great, according to Dan Cain with the Salton Sea Authority, which supervises the sea.http://cbs2.com/local/local_story_219124433.html


Oil spill hurt few pelicans Associated PressSAVANNAH - Georgia environmental officials say they made a mistake in reporting dozens of brown pelicans had been coated in oil from an estimated 5,000-gallon spill in the Savannah River. Blown-up photographs of 246 brown pelicans observed in the oil-slicked river revealed only two with oil on their beaks, officials said Wednesday. They had said a day earlier that 47 of the federally protected birds appeared to have oil in their feathers.Wildlife scientists who spotted the pelicans Tuesday had to view them through binoculars from 50 yards away.

What looked like oil was often just water in the birds' brown feathers, said Jeff Barnes, an emergency specialist with the state Environmental Protection Division."They're brown and ... they look like they could be oil-coated," Barnes said."We actually questioned, why would the birds be so readily able to fly? And now we know - the feathers were wet."The scientists discovered their mistake after examining digital photos of each bird taken with a telephoto lens.Barnes said no other species appeared to seriously harmed by the oil spill discovered Monday along 12 miles of the river between Savannah and Tybee Island, as well as 3 miles of the adjacent Intracoastal Waterway.

The Coast Guard said it's still investigating whether the oil came from a ship, a pipeline or some other source. With the cause unknown, taxpayers are having to pay for the cleanup, likely to take weeks."The conditions are getting better as we speak," Barnes said.

This article was printed via the web on 7/27/2006 11:58:44 PM . This article
appeared in The Post and Courier and updated online at Charleston.net on Thursday, July 20, 2006.


'Drunk' Pelican Crashes Again

(CBS) CORONA DEL MAR A California Brown Pelican named "Crash" for diving into a car windshield after ingesting tainted algae earned her nickname again Thursday, smacking into some rocks when released into the wild.Despite the early stumble, "Crash" recovered and eventually soared away.The bird was one of 11 pelicans released at Big Corona Beach by staff from the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach.

"Crash" was distinguished by a red dot on her beak, according to Debbie McGuire, wildlife director of the center.As all the birds were set free, the other 10 immediately flew off, but Crash lingered. :::snip::: Jul 20, 2006 3:39 pm US/Pacific, http://cbs2.com/topstories/local_story_201184413.html (direct link to video)Previous videos on this story: 6/26 <http://www.cbs2.com/video/?id=20833@kcbs.dayport.com>, including pelicans and black-crowned herons at the Wildlife Care Center, Huntington Beach; 6/24 <http://www.cbs2.com/video/?id=20765@kcbs.dayport.com> Also: Testing the Waters


Monsoon-directed pelicans need water, transportation to ocean
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 07.19.2006
The accidental march of the penguins, er, pelicans, starts each year with monsoon winds from Mexico, and sometimes ends with a fight for life in the dry Arizona desert.And for this year's crop of directionally-challenged birds, their Arizona misadventure is all the more arduous because the agency that normally comes to their rescue is undergoing renovations.

And the agency helping them this year, instead, is being handicapped by the drought.The pelicans accidentally get caught on a stream of monsoonal wind at the Sea of Cortez and find themselves in Tucson and Southern Arizona. Once here, they need to be rehabilitated before they are sent to Sea World in San Diego and released back to their Pacific Ocean habitat.The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum usually plays a big role in saving some of these young endangered brown pelicans, but this year, because of construction at the museum, it has been unable to take in the confused and distressed birds. Last summer the Desert Museum helped rehabilitate more than 26 of the birds, said museum spokeswoman Mary Powell-McConnell.

The Tucson Wildlife Center has helped rescue the birds the past few years, but right now they need all the help they can get. The center is tight on housing space for the birds, they need a lot of fish to feed them and, of course, a lot of water.Lisa Bates, center president, said it's the busy season for other animals in need of help, which makes the space shortage that much worse. The center, at 13275 E. Speedway, has a variety of animals in rehab right now, ranging from coyotes to bobcats, raccoons to javelina.

The center uses a well for its water supply, but the well has gone dry in the drought, Bates said.
"It's very difficult to keep the pelican's pools cleaned and filled" with a water shortage, she said.
This isn't the first time the well has gone dry, she said, but it's more of a problem when pelicans need help.The center is hoping for donations to help pay for the water they are trucking in, as well as flights to get the birds back to the ocean.:::snip::: (for the rest of the story) Found a pelican?
Tucson Wildlife Center, 24 hours a day, 290-WILD (290-9453)
Arizona Department of Game and Fish, 628-5376 or the department's Tucson-area rehabilitation office, 903-1104
Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum help line, 883-1380, ext. 313


Brown pelicans coated in oil by spill on Savannah River The Associated Press - SAVANNAH, Ga.Dozens of federally protected brown pelicans have feathers coated in oil from an estimated 5,000-gallon spill in the Savannah River, Georgia environmental officials said Tuesday.The pelicans, no longer listed as an endangered species in Georgia but still protected as migratory birds, were seen perched along the river's banks during a wildlife assessment on the 12-miles of waterway where the oil spread Monday from Savannah to Tybee Island."Right now it's too early to tell how many, if any, of the brown pelicans will die," said Jeff Barnes, an emergency specialist with the state Environmental Protection Division. "They are cleaning themselves off, but the problem is they get (oil) on their beaks, they swallow it."Brown pelicans are endangered in the U.S. except for those found along the Atlantic coast as well as in Florida and Alabama _ areas where the birds have been considered recovered since 1985.

Barnes said his team had surveyed 47 brown pelicans smeared with oil along the river, which forms the Georgia-South Carolina state line. They made up 19 percent of 246 of the birds spotted Tuesday.None of the birds seemed seriously ill or dying, Barnes said. No dead birds or fish have been found in the spill area.He said wildlife officials won't try to capture and clean the large pelicans unless they appear near death, for risk of injuring the birds' fragile wings and necks.

The Coast Guard said it still had not determined what caused the oil spill, but hoped laboratory tests would determine the type of oil and help identify if it came from a ship, pipeline or other source.Cmdr. David Murk, the Coast Guard officer in charge of the investigation and cleanup, told reporters most of the oil had settled in sea grasses along the river's southern bank.

About three miles of the adjacent Intracoastal Waterway remained closed to boats Tuesday with pools of oil contained by floating booms to stop them from spreading."We don't have the product actually on the water so much, which makes it more difficult to recover when you get into the sea grass," said Murk, who estimated the cleanup could take "weeks, possibly months."

A 6-inch-wide band of oil was found along 600 yards of beach on the northern tip of Tybee Island, a popular summer vacation spot. Murk said the beaches remained open after officials determined there was little health risk.Because the source of the spill remains unidentified, the federal government has brought in a contractor to clean up the spill at taxpayer expense. Richard Grant, of contractor Moran Environmental Recovery, said cleanup efforts were under way with about 40 people working on the spill.Cargo ships resumed traveling the river to the Port of Savannah late Monday after the Coast Guard had closed the 12-mile stretch, effectively shutting down the port, for nearly 13 hours.Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. http://www.accessnorthga.com/news/ap_newfullstory.asp?ID=77849


Spot-billed Pelicans bounce back
A decade ago, things looked bleak for the Spot-billed Pelican Pelecanus philippensis in South India. Excellent community-based conservation work by NGOs in the region, coupled with improved protection of breeding sites, has turned the pelican’s fortunes around.:::snip::: <http://www.birdlife.org/news/news/2006/07/pelican.html>For details about the spot-billed: <http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/species/index.html?action=SpcHTMDetails.asp&sid=3812&m=0>

Annual visitation: Lost pelicans in Yuma likely from Sea of Cortez
The Associated Press

Yuma is seeing the return of brown pelicans, which seem to get lost about this time every year and end up in this southern Arizona city.
The pelicans land on streets and parking lots, in ponds or sometimes along the river or canals.
Wildlife officials say the pelicans are juveniles of nonbreeding age and were probably born late last year or early this year at the Sea of Cortez's Pelican Island.
"We don't know just how they come through here. It might be the southwest winds," said Kofa National Wildlife Refuge manager Paul Cornes. http://www.tucsoncitizen.com/daily/local/19137.php

Poisoned, 'Drunken' Pelicans Fall From Sky
Thursday, July 13, 2006, By James Longton

A toxic algae bloom along the coast is threatening the endangered brown pelican.

SAN PEDRO - Dozens of California brown pelicans are falling sick, and in many cases dying, from a toxin called domoic acid, born from an unusually large algae bloom.
Since April, nearly 100 birds have been dropped off at the International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) in San Pedro, half of which were dead upon arrival.
The poisoned pelicans are becoming disoriented, flying inland and dropping aimlessly from the sky. Many have been found meandering on land as though drunk, and in some cases, falling to their deaths.

:::snip::: click for the complete article

In the past couple of weeks, there have been many reports of suspicious behavior among brown pelicans and the rescue centers continue to be inundated. More incidents are likely to occur, as the waters south of Los Angeles Harbor were still testing positive for the poisonous algae as of the writing of this article.


July, 2006, Coastal Post, Bolinas, CA

Central California Brown Pelican Deaths Likely from Starvation and Malnutrition
By California Department of Fish & Game

Preliminary results of the California Department of Fish and Game's (DFG) investigation into central coast California brown pelican deaths indicate causes may be starvation and malnutrition. The large number of recently fledged birds competing with adults for the existing food supply might be the reason for unusually high mortality rates.
DFG veterinary pathologists from the Marine Wildlife Care and Research Center have been investigating the mystery since early May, when the endangered birds first started stranding in the Ventura area. They will continue to examine affected pelicans and issue a report once significant findings and summary information have been collected.

Several dozen adult and immature pelicans, either very sick or dead were found on Ventura County beaches in May. Initially, the birds' symptoms suggested possible domoic acid intoxication, but laboratory test results have so far been inconclusive. By June 1, investigators had found as many as 100 more pelicans with similar symptoms, first in the Pismo Beach and Morro Bay areas, and then in the Monterey Bay area. These pelicans were almost exclusively juveniles in poor body condition.

In the last few days, investigators sent 31 dead pelicans to DFG's wildlife care and research center in Santa Cruz, where biologists and veterinary pathologists are examining them. Starvation and malnutrition are the most common findings, but one bird had a broken wing and one was heavily oiled.

California brown pelicans breed and lay their eggs in winter, with the majority nesting in Mexico and smaller numbers on California's Channel Islands. The eggs hatch in early spring and chicks usually begin to fledge in May and June. Nesting was very successful this year, with the first breeding on Prince Island in recent history.

Both state and federal agencies have listed the brown pelican as an endangered species since the 1970s, due to severe reproductive failure caused by DDT pollution. Recovery efforts over the last three decades have resulted in the seabird again becoming a common sight along the West Coast. In light of the rebound success, the US Fish and Wildlife Service is considering delisting the species in the near future.

The DFG has been working with the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center and the International Bird Rescue Research Center throughout this investigation.

Certainly, starvation and malnutrition is what has been seen in the juvenile pelicans coming into Santa Barbara, but that still leaves the question of why? Reports from the harbor area and offshore fishermen indicate that there are plenty of bait fish, so why are there so many juveniles starving? It seems unlikely that an ignorance of fishing is the reason - although there have been quite a few younger than usual birds this year. Could the parents have left the nests earlier than usual and not fed the young as long as usual(disturbance, domoic acid?) So, the fact is malnutrition and starvation, but that still is not the answer to the question of Why? ...One dreads to think of what next year may hold — if, for instance, there is not the supply of bait fish and there is a large population of juvenile pelicans.


Bird Center Nursing Dozens of Starving Baby Pelicans Back to Health
Written for the web by Jason Kobely, Internet News Producer

Wildlife enthusiasts like staffers at the International Bird Rescue and Research Center in Cordelia don't routinely see starving birds as a good sign. But with the center seeing a major influx of starving baby brown pelicans over the last several weeks, workers said it may be evidence that an endangered species is on the rebound.

Since May, the center has received nearly 30 fledgling brown pelicans, most underweight and washed up on Northern California shores near Santa Cruz and Monterey, all finding a tough time feeding themselves on their own.
"They were definitely on the brink of starving when they came in," center rehab manager Michelle Bellizzi said. "We don't know why these guys were unable to feed, but we just know they came into the center and they're really responding to fluids and nutrition."

While none of the rescue workers want to see starving birds, Bellizzi said it could be encouraging news for the species. Experts think an increasing number of the endangered birds leaving the nest could be competing with each other over a limited supply of available fish.

"This year, more than prior years, there may be more pelicans than food along the coast," Bellizzi said.

The pesticide DDT nearly doomed the California brown pelican to extinction in the 1970s. Once DDT was banned in 1972, the birds began a slow resurgance. Scientists now believe there may be as many as 7,000 breeding pairs of California brown pelicans nesting along state shorelines. A decision over whether to remove the bird from the endangered species list is currently before the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Regardless of the conditions that led to their stays at the center, staffers are focused on nursing the young birds back to health. 11 of the 30 birds have already been returned to the wild.
"We were going through about 100 pounds of fish every day," Bellizzi said. With each pelican eating upwards of seven pounds of fish per day, Bellizzi said the ravanous birds "are eating us out of house and home."
But those fish don't come free. The center's fish bill topped $20,000 so far this year and Bellizzi estimated each bird costs at least $200 to rehabilitate.

For more information on how you can support the center, click http://www.ibrrc.org/
Updated: 7/5/2006 6:41:54 PM http://www.news10.net/storyfull2.aspx?storyid=18581
Note: In Santa Barbara there's a similar situation, with many juvenile pelicans --- here, however, there is no shortage of bait fish, of food along the coast.


Wildlife officials to monitor fireworks' effect on rare pelicans

TIKI ISLAND, Texas As families take in holiday fireworks near Tiki Island this weekend, state wildlife officials will be watching to see if the display is harming a nearby sanctuary where thousands of rare brown pelicans build nests.
An unidentified Tiki Island homeowner has paid for a Fourth of July fireworks show for the past three years at the site. He's had it set up on a spit of land about 600 yards from North Deer Island.
But some preservationists fear the booms and fiery sprays of light tonight will disrupt the nesting habits of the pelicans on North Deer Island. The fireworks, they say, may cause some chicks to starve if their parents are so spooked they flee the nests and lose track of their offspring.

The brown pelicans are endangered in Texas, meaning they are protected by federal law.
Local officials and wildlife officials agencies agreed the fireworks staging area should be moved to a tiny island a bit farther west of North Deer Island.
But state officials will still monitor the show despite the compromise on location.
Information from: Houston Chronicle, http://www.houstonchronicle.com click here for the longer version
Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All content © Copyright 2000 - 2006 WorldNow and KGBT.


San Pedro center faces influx of sick, injured birds
Sixteen Caspian and elegant terns rescued this week are among the creatures being treated at the overworked facility.
By Lee Peterson, Daily Breeze

Already dealing with an influx of starving pelicans, the International Bird Rescue Research Center in San Pedro had to ratchet up its rehab activities this week to handle the survivors of a mysterious case of avian mayhem off the Long Beach coast.
Injured birds are flocking to the center, with 185 California brown pelicans so far this year brought in suffering from lack of food, fishing-line tangles and, in one case, a gunshot wound.
Meanwhile, 16 Caspian and elegant terns were rescued by center workers earlier this week from Long Beach after hundreds of their fellow terns were found dead, washed up on the shoreline.

Authorities are investigating leads as to whether people interfered with the protected migratory birds, which were roosting on offshore barges in Long Beach Harbor, said Jay Holcomb, director of the rescue center.
The center, at Fort MacArthur, was busy handling a startlingly high number of young pelicans, mostly suffering from starvation.
Thirty are in house, healing from their wounds and building up their strength before their eventual release.
Fund raising is now an issue as the center copes with the bills for feeding its guests. So far this year, the center has spent $20,000 on fish.

In April, brown pelicans were literally falling from the skies around the Los Angeles region, disoriented and injured by domoic acid poisoning resulting from a bloom of toxic plankton off the coast.
Now an apparent lack of fish, such as anchovies, in local waters is spelling hard times for the birds, especially the young. There are also cases where they've become tangled in fishing line.
It adds up to a huge load of work for the nonprofit bird rescue center.
"It concerns us that this keeps happening," Holcomb said.

Peter Wallerstein of the Whale Rescue Team has been busy helping pelicans of late instead of his usual clients: sea lions and harbor seals.
He's picked up 32 pelicans this month, including two in the past week that he rescued from the bait hold of a fishing boat in Marina del Rey and one he picked up off the Marina (90) Freeway in the middle of the night.
"I've seen this maybe a few yeas ago where all of these starving young ones were out there, but I don't remember it being this bad," Wallerstein said.
Wallerstein's rescued pelicans are taken to the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach, which has also had a busy season caring for injured seabirds.

http://www.dailybreeze.com/news/articles/3256791.html?page=2&c=y;Originally published Friday, June 30, 2006


Pelicans in peril: Starving birds looking for food, getting snagged by fishhooks
June 27, 2006 7:45 AM
Wildlife rescue workers are scrambling to save baby pelicans starving off the coast of Santa Barbara -- and many of the birds are seeking sustenance off Stearns Wharf, where they are being snagged with fishhooks.
"One bird had four fishhooks in it," said Sally Bromfield, a director of the nonprofit and volunteer Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network. "It's really a problem.
"We should not feed them at the pier, because they are hanging around like pets," she said. "The more (residents and tourists) feed them, the more they hang around and the more they get caught up in fishing lines."
:::snip::: (The SB News-Press is by subscription; click for a pdf copy, saved for educational purposes under the fair use exception to copyright law. The pelicans need all the help they can get.)
Santa Barbara News-Press


Bird Allegedly Flying Under The Influence Crashes

(CBS) LAGUNA BEACH A pelican that crashed head-on into a car windshield may have been flying while intoxicated on sea algae, and officials warned people Friday to be on the lookout for more unusual animal behavior.

The California Brown Pelican flew into a car windshield Thursday on Pacific Coast Highway in Laguna Beach.
It was in guarded condition with internal injuries at the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach, where a four-inch gash in its pouch was stitched up and its right toe was stabilized with a pin, according to Lisa Birkle, assistant wildlife director.
Wildlife officials said the bird may have been high on an algae in the ocean that could be reaching Orange County.
If the bird's behavior was a result of eating the sea algae and subsequent Domoic Acid poisoning, which has affected seabirds and marine mammals the last two months, then more birds could be affected and people should be on the lookout for similar unusual behavior, Birkle said.

Symptoms range from general disorientation, acting "drunk" or just being in an unusual place, she said.
Any unusual behavior in pelicans should be reported to the wildlife center in Huntington Beach at (714) 374-5587, Birkle said.(Or in Santa Barbara, 805-966-9005.)
Brown pelicans are an endangered species that are protected from hunters. But the government is seeking to "de-list" them from that status because they have made a comeback from their dwindled numbers caused by DDT poisoning years ago, Birkle said.
clock Jun 23, 2006 2:42 pm US/Pacific
(© 2006 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)



June 21, 2006
Katrina Effects Felt by Brown Pelicans
Hurricane Katrina caused massive land loss from the state's Barrier Islands, an effect felt dramatically by the population of our state bird.
The number of pelicans statewide is down by half compared to last year.
As Barrier Island washed away, the nesting grounds of the bird have also vanished.

This is usually the peak nesting season for the endangered brown pelican, but officials say with such limited space to fight over for nesting, some pelicans simply won't mate at all this year.


Despite volunteer help, pelicans starving
Friday, June 23, 2006 By: Andrew Masuda
An alarmingly high number of young brown pelicans and birds of prey are having a difficult time making it on their own this season. Many of them are dying. From Nipomo to San Simeon, pelicans and raptors are relying on Pacific Wildlife Care volunteers for survival. It's a task that's proving costly for the non-profit group.


Baby Pelicans Starving Along Calif. Coast
The Associated Press
Friday, June 23, 2006; 8:54 PM
CORDELIA, Calif. -- Miles from the shoreline, 10 baby brown pelicans lounge by a pool in a roomy cage, large buckets of fish there for the taking. Just days ago, these birds could not feed themselves at all. Scores of starving baby pelicans _ emaciated, cold and too weak to fly _ are washing up on California beaches in disturbing numbers this spring.
:::snip::: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/06/23/AR2006062300907.html

But what's causing the starvation when bait fish are plentiful? Are they too young to know how to fish?

Posted on Thu, Jun. 22, 2006
Fish and Game determined pelicans deaths due to starvation
By David Sneed
The Tribune
Investigators with the state Department of Fish and Game have preliminarily determined that a large number of brown pelican deaths along the Central Coast are due to starvation and malnutrition.
"The large number of recently fledged birds competing with adults for the existing food supply might be the reason for unusually high mortality rates," the agency concluded in a press release issued Tuesday.
By June 1, as many as 100 sick or dead pelicans had been found in Ventura and San Luis Obispo counties. Thirty-one dead birds were sent to the state's research laboratory in Santa Cruz.
Investigators suspected that domoic acid, a toxin caused by algal blooms, might be making the birds sick. However, testing results were inconclusive. State officials plan to continue their investigation into the pelican deaths and issue a final report when their findings are final.

Posted on Sat, Jun. 17, 2006
Pelican deaths come at crucial time
Die-off that has been hitting young birds comes at a time when the species' status is being debated

By David Sneed dsneed@thetribunenews.com
A recent spate of brown pelican deaths that has reached the local coastline comes at a crucial time for the species.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering removing the large birds from its endangered species list. The agency recently embarked on a yearlong review of the species to determine if the removal from the list is warranted.
Meanwhile, the state Department of Fish and Game and UC Santa Cruz are continuing an investigation into the cause of the deaths. Park rangers and wildlife officials in San Luis Obispo County are collecting pelican carcasses and sending them to the state's veterinary laboratory in Santa Cruz for examination.
"Early sampling has not turned up positive information," said Dave Jessup, a state wildlife veterinarian at the lab. "We don't have anything conclusive."

About a month and a half ago, people began observing large numbers of starving, mostly juvenile, brown pelicans in Ventura County. The die-off has reached Estero Bay in recent weeks.
"The mortality seems to be moving north," Jessup said. "We are now getting some in Monterey Bay."
Biologists believe the mortality can be traced, at least in part, to a highly successful pelican breeding season this winter. The birds breed on rocky islands off the coast of California and Mexico, free from mammal predators.
For the first time since 1939, pelicans this year nested on Prince Island, an islet near San Miguel Island in the Channel Islands chain.

It's been a record-breaking year for young pelicans fledging, said Mike Harris, a state wildlife biologist in Morro Bay.
"They head south, breed and nest, and then come back to this area," he said.
Most of the starving pelicans are juveniles. Biologists theorize that the inexperienced yearling birds are having a hard time finding enough schools of small fish to sustain the sharp population increase.
However, disease or poisonings from toxic algae blooms may be making the situation worse. Postmortem testing should reveal if there is a problem wildlife managers need to be worried about, Harris said.
Brown pelicans are one of the state's most visible and emblematic seabirds. They are often seen plunging headlong into the ocean to scoop up small fish in their pouches and gliding in tight formations just above the surf.
The California subspecies of the bird was put on the endangered species list in 1970 after the pesticide DDT thinned pelican eggshells and caused massive reproductive failure. Human disturbance of breeding colonies also contributed to the decline.

According to the state Department of Fish and Game, the pelicans' decline played a significant role in raising Californians' awareness of marine pollution and helped pass a series of environmental laws in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Conservation efforts have helped the bird again become a common feature along the West Coast. In December, a group called the Endangered Species Recovery Council petitioned to have the brown pelican removed from the endangered species list.
Where to comment
Comments on the proposal to remove the brown pelican from the Department of Fish and Game's endangered species list can be sent to fws8pelican petition@fws.gov or Christine Hamilton, 2493 Portola Road, Suite B, Ventura, CA 93003.

To report a sick pelican, call Pacific Wildlife Care at 543-9453. (OR IN SANTA BARBARA, call 805-966=9005.)
Reach David Sneed at 781-7930.

© 2006 San Luis Obispo Tribune and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.
http://www.sanluisobispo.com http://www.sanluisobispo.com/mld/sanluisobispo/news/local/14840771.htm


From Australia: The pelican brief
Leisa Scott , June 15, 2006
What do Bridgette and Paula Powers have in common? Well, everything – including a mission to save stricken seabirds, and the powers of endurance to criss-cross and circle the country, on foot and by bike.
Pelecanus conspicillatus (Australian pelican):
Found throughout Australia, this big-billed bird with the large throat pouch weighs up to 6.5 kilograms and has a wingspan reaching 3 metres. Can live beyond 50 years in captivity, eats mainly fish, but has been known to drown seagulls for food. Can soar up to 3000m on thermals.

Monozygotic powers (the Powers twins):
Located in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, these identical twin sisters travel far and wide rescuing pelicans and other seabirds. Now 32, they are vegetarians with an uncanny ability to second-guess each other. They are full of surprises.

Which works a treat for the pelicans. Unable to work apart from each other – they tried that once at Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo – the twins have channelled their love of wildlife into rescuing seabirds. “Not too many people look after seabirds – probably because they’re smelly and have got lice and can cost a lot of money. But we weren’t frightened about touching them, or getting dirty or fishy.”
In fact, being a duo makes them formidable on a rescue mission. Bridgette acts as the forward party, dangling a fish before the wounded or ill pelican until it moves to take it. Once it has the bait, Bridgette quickly hooks her finger into the bird’s pouch as Paula, lurking behind, “gives him a big bear hug”.
Of course, in the meantime, the bird is gnawing on Bridgette’s arm but, they chorus, “when you look into their eyes, wow”. They giggle some more and add, “We call them love bites.” Helen, grinning, calls out from the patio where she’s cleaning windows: “It’s lovely having a pelican as a son-in-law.”


Monterey, CA, June 14
SPCA treating starving pelicans

More than a dozen young pelicans with a mysterious ailment are being rehabilitated at the Monterey County SPCA, according to officials for the humane society.
The pelicans found locally are among scores of starving birds that are inundating rescue organizations throughout California.

The California brown pelicans are arriving at the organization's wildlife center "cold, starving and in overall poor body condition," according to Beth Brookhouser, spokeswoman for the SPCA.
"They are also being found in unusual locations," Brookhouser said. "One pelican currently at the SPCA Wildlife Center was discovered sitting on a tractor (in a) field in Soledad."
Officials for the state Department of Fish and Game is currently investigating the cause of the pelicans' problems.
Representatives for the local SPCA are asking residents to contact them immediately at 373-2631 or 422-4721 if they see a pelican in distress.


June 15, 2006 santa cruz
Sick pelicans showing up on area beaches

Starving and weak baby pelicans are showing up on area beaches in unusual numbers this month, and animal experts are not sure why.
"They're not finding food and it's hard to say whether it's their poor foraging skills, the food is not where it should be, or something else," said Sue Campbell, wildlife center supervisor at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Native Animal Rescue in Santa Cruz has cared for 15 pelicans already this month, and the SPCA in Monterey reports receiving 14 sick brown pelicans during the last two weeks. The SPCA had to euthanize four birds this week due to poor health and another died on its own. A necropsy found that some of the birds had empty stomachs.

In Santa Cruz, the birds have been taken to Molly Richardson, the director of Native Animal Rescue. When found, the birds have no appetite, are weak and cold, she said.
Richardson and her granddaughters nurse the birds back to health with a combination of hydrating fluids, Ensure and smelt milkshakes. The pelicans were transported Tuesday to International Bird Rescue and Research Center in Cordelia.
In the last week, the volume of sick birds increased dramatically, Richardson said. Researchers at the Department of Fish and Game say early indications are that the problem is starvation and malnutrition. The problem may in fact be the result of a successful breeding season.
"It's part of the dynamics of nature," said Carrie Wilson, a marine biologist for the Department of Fish and Game. "All of a sudden we have a bumper crop, so more birds may be struggling because there are simply more birds."

The California brown pelican is protected, though the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering delisting the species in light of the population's recovery since the 1980s.
Experts say residents should not handle sick birds; report them to Animal Rescue and the Department of Fish and Game. The 24-hour Animal Rescue hotline is 462-0726; Fish and Game hotline is 1-888-334-2258.
Contact Nick Guroff at nguroff@santacruzsentinel.com.
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Copyright © Santa Cruz Sentinel. All rights reserved.


Rash of starving pelicans perplexes local rescuers
An unusual number of hungry young birds has been rescued lately; experts suspect a baby boom of inexperienced divers may be the cause

San Luis Obispo, CA; Posted on Tue, Jun. 13, 2006
Animal rescue volunteers fill a bucket with small fish, and eight ravenous brown pelicans crowd around, filling their pouches and swallowing the fish down in bunches.
The birds are part of an unusual influx of starving young brown pelicans that have been rescued this month around San Luis Obispo County.
Animal rescue group Pacific Wildlife Care has rescued 23 pelicans and has received tips about dozens of others in distress.
"This is not normal for us," said Dani Nicholson, gesturing at the pelicans lounging on the lawn of her Cayucos home, which is where the birds will spend from two weeks to a month regaining their strength until they are ready for release back into the wild.
The state Department of Fish and Game has been looking into the phenomenon, which extends from here into Southern California, in an attempt to find out what is causing it, said Barbie Dugan, Pacific Wildlife Care president.

The ocean has plenty of mackerel, sardines and anchovies, the pelican’s main prey species, so a lack of food is not the cause.

© 2006 San Luis Obispo Tribune and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.


Calif. brown pelicans return to island for first time in decades
June 12, 2006
More signs of return for California brown pelicans

For the first time since 1939, endangered California brown pelicans are nesting on Prince Island, according to UCSC seabird biologists and the California Department of Fish and Game.
As part of a contract with the Department of Fish and Game Office of Spill Prevention and Response, UCSC biologists Breck Tyler and Phil Capitolo counted 43 pelican nests on May 16 during an aerial monitoring survey of seabird breeding colonies in the Channel Islands National Park and the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.
Prince Island, located near San Miguel Island at the north end of the pelican's main historical breeding range in southern California, is one of three current breeding locations in California; pelicans nested there sporadically at least until 1939. Natural colony re-establishment at Prince Island and other historic breeding sites could reflect the continuing return of this endangered seabird.



Pelicans back in force
By RICHARD HINTON/Bismarck Tribune
June 7. -- More than 34,600 American white pelicans, ” a near record,” are nesting at Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge, a breeding ground that has seen more pelican pullouts than successes in recent years.
The population estimate is based on photos taken by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service during a May 31 flight over the nesting islands north of Medina.

The photos showed 17,302 pelican nests. Biologists estimate two adult pelicans per nest, putting Chase Lake's breeding age pelican population at 34,604 birds.

The refuge's pelican population last year was 9,425 nests, or 18,850 birds.
The big bounce in pelican numbers is because of the successful nesting seasons in the early 2000s, and chicks hatched in one or more of those years now have reached breeding age, said Tomi Buskness, Chase Lake project manager. Pelicans reach breeding age between 3 and 5 years, she explained.
The refuge had a record high number of breeding adults in 2000, 35,466, or 17,733 nests.

"We had high years after that, 2001 and 2002," Buskness said.
Pelican setbacks began in late May and early June of 2004 when about 30,000 adults abandoned the refuge, leaving behind eggs and chicks. Biologists speculated that a coyote intrusion may have been the cause.
An estimated 18,850 adult pelicans pulled out last year after almost all of their chicks died following two bouts of cool, wet and windy weather that hit the chicks after the adults had stopped brooding them.

"They were on their own and pretty much defenseless," explained Ken Torkelson, a USFWS spokesman in Bismarck.
The West Nile virus also appears to be a factor in chick deaths. Since 2002, biologists have blamed the virus for the deaths of thousands of young birds after mid-July at Chase Lake and other large colonies in adjacent states.
Everything appears normal this year, Buskness said.

"So far, everything is looking great. We're keeping our fingers crossed that we don't have the weather events," Buskness said. "West Nile may also be a factor, but we won't know for the next couple of months."
Before the 2004 abandonment, nesting pelicans occupied two islands and a peninsula. Now they nest solely on the islands.
"They are in the same locations as last year, just more of them," Buskness said.

Observers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey's Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, with support from the N.D. Game and Fish Department, will continue to monitor the colony.
"We have individual monitors out three or four times a week. We have video cameras out there too. Observation is done remotely. If we go out there, it's done in a way that's not disturbing to the pelicans," Buskness said.
Pelicans began returning to the 4,385-acre refuge in early April this year and continued to arrive through late May.

"We're very encouraged by the number of pelicans that have returned to Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge," said Torkelson. "However, we have a long way to go before we can say we've had a successful nesting season."

(Reach outdoor writer Richard Hinton at 701-250-8256 or richard.hinton@bismarcktribune.com.)


Wayward white pelican thrills PEI bird lovers
Updated Sun. Jun. 4 2006 10:29 PM ET
CTV.ca News Staff
Birdwatchers on Prince Edward Island are enjoying an exceedingly rare treat -- a visit from a white pelican.
How rare are pelican sightings in PEI?
When conservation officer Wade MacKinnon got the call, he thought it was a joke. "First time I got a pelican call," he said. Some people thought it was a bag that had blown in the water.
The pelican really shouldn't be there.
At this time of year, one can find American White Pelicans in the northern areas of the prairie provinces, where they nest in the lakes. Some even reach the Northwest Territories. The birds, with webbed feet and wingspans of up to three metres, winter in the Gulf of Mexico and California.
There were earlier sightings of a pelican in Maine and New Brunswick, but birders think it's the same creature.
Birding enthusiast Waldron Leard told The Globe and Mail that it may well be the first live sighting of a pelican in PEI.
A pelican corpse was found on a beach almost 20 years ago, he said.
Given the bird's rarity, it's no surprise that people from Maine, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have shown up at Black Pond to see the white bird.
While there's plenty of fish for the pelican to feed on, there's one thing Black Pond can't offer -- another pelican.
The big bump on the bird's orange bill means it's in the mood for love.
"May have to wait a while," laughed MacKinnon.
With a report from CTV's John Vennavally-Rao

Birders flock to see rare pelican
Visit to PEI puts creature 2,000 kilometres off its normal course
, conservationists say
Birders of Prince Edward Island -- and across the Maritimes -- are atwitter after a white pelican landed on a pond last Sunday, a rare sighting on the East Coast island.
Conservationists estimate the pelican, with its distinctive narrow orange beak, is at least 2,000 kilometres off course and they are puzzled at how it wound up on Canada's East Coast.
White pelicans winter in the Gulf of Mexico and California and migrate north to Western Canada to nest in the spring.
The web-footed birds with massive three-metre-long wingspans are a common sight at this time of year in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Some fly as far north as the Northwest Territories.

When Waldron Leard heard the news of a pelican sighting at Black Pond on the eastern tip of PEI, he grabbed his camera and headed to the national bird sanctuary. Mr. Leard snapped photos of the pelican bouncing on the water, then watched it take off.
"It's one of the most beautiful things, when it's soaring," said Mr. Leard, who is from Kingsboro, PEI. "It was gorgeous. It was stunning to look at. We just have little birds here; gulls and that. This thing, it's so big."
Mr. Leard believes it's the first live sighting of a pelican in PEI. A pelican carcass once washed up on a beach in 1987, he said.
Cars with licence plates from Maine, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have arrived at Black Pond this week to watch the bird.
"It's just magic," Mr. Leard said. "You just look at the thing and you realize how far away it is from home. . . . It must have a wonderful story, how it got here."
A pelican was spotted late last month in Maine and New Brunswick, and Mr. Leard believes it's the same bird.
So does New Brunswick conservationist David Christie, who said a white pelican was seen in Maine on May 23. Soon after, it was spotted in Waterside, N. B., then later near the Bay of Fundy.
Birders watched it take off last Sunday morning.
Mr. Christie, of Mary's Point, N.B., said a stranded pelican shows up once every four or five years in New Brunswick, but usually at the end of the nesting season in August.
The pelican might have been blown off course by a storm, or its navigation abilities may be compromised, he added.
He predicted the pelican will find its way back to its flock. "Birds are very good at navigating," Mr. Christie said. "If they're off course and let go, they can get back to where they should be."
For a photo and another CBC story, click here.


The white pelican (Pelcanus, erythroryncho) is the Shaq O’Neal of North American birds.

Three dozen pelicans flying a double chevron formation stopped fishermen, hikers and hooky players in their tracks last week as they sailed over Riverfront Park.
The white pelican has a wingspread of 108 inches (Shaq’s is only 84 inches). Imagine three midgets laid end to end. In North America, only the California condor has a greater reach with a wingspread of three midgets and one inch.
The large white birds invaded the middle Yellowstone River in the middle of the last century. Moving their range farther upstream each year, they reached Yellowstone County in 1960.
Unlike the brown pelican that dives for fish, the whites swim in groups, surrounding and feeding on schools of fish. Some sport “breeding plates,” keel-like protrusions on their upper beaks. If you see one wearing a breeding plate, ignore him. He’s lying. Pelicans summering here are 2-year-olds, birds still too young to breed.
Try the Blue Creek Bridge at about 4:30 p.m. At other times pelicans can be seen somewhere between the Exxon Refinery and Riverfront Park.http://www.billingsnews.com/story?storyid=19868&issue=329


Ungainly Grace — Pelican Grace @ National Geographic Magazine
By Mel White
Photographs by Klaus Nigge
On land, the bird has been called "a feathered basset hound." In the air, pelicans are poems on the wing.

Should we pity the poor young pelican?

The Ugly Duckling, after all, grew up to be a beautiful swan, while the baby pelican—surely among the homeliest creatures on Earth—can look forward only to becoming . . . an adult pelican. Whether this constitutes much of an improvement is debatable.

Consider some of the words used by writers from Audubon onward to describe the American white pelican: clumsy, awkward, ungainly, grotesque, and absurdly ridiculous. Even the authoritative and no-nonsense new series The Birds of North America temporarily abandons scientific detachment to call the pelican somewhat comic, as if it were a feathered basset hound.

All right, then: The pelican is no swan, all sensuous curves and stateliness. It's chunky. It's jowly. It has clown feet and a bill like a shovel, and it expresses sexual ardor by turning red in the face and growing a giant wart on its nose.

So what are we to make of the fact that those same writers reverse themselves, often in the very same paragraph, to call the white pelican majestic, magnificent, graceful, and truly beautiful?

Here's the reason: Our clumsy bird stood up, waddled forward, spread its wings, and took off. And voilà—caterpillar to butterfly in ten seconds. :::snip:::


Pelicans sighted off Vashon Island, Puget Sound.

Four pelicans there were the stars of the day, with no one able to recall seeing the birds this far north before. A long flight for the juvenile, hatched, most likely, on W. Anacapa Island. .Photo by Alan Berner, Copyright: Seattle Times, http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2003025510_lowtide29m.html


Brown pelican could be taken off endangered list
Whether to remove the California brown pelican from the federal list of endangered species is the subject of a study announced Wednesday by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Listed since 1970, the birds are known for dramatic dives into the ocean. They are found from the Gulf of California, between Baja California and mainland Mexico, all the way into parts of British Columbia. Their nests dot the Channel Islands.

The 12-month status review stems from a petition submitted in December by the Endangered Specis REcovery Council which seeks to remove the pelican from the list.:::snip::: SB News-Press

WRITE: Christine Hamilton, 2493 Portola Road, Suite B, Venura 93003 -- or: E-mail: fws8pelicanpetition@fws.gov. The comment period closes July 24.




Lake owners have bellyful of pelicans
By Rich Tosches, Denver Post Staff Writer; Buena Vista, Article Launched: 5/10/2006

Fly-fishing is a popular method of catching trout. It involves waving a $600 graphite fly rod over the head until the sharp hook of the artificial fly lodges in the angler's ear. Then his friends drive him directly to a medical clinic. Unless there's a bar along the way.

Another method consists of plunging your head into water and coming up with the trout in your mouth. That style is favored by pelicans because, according to biologists, the great birds don't have $600 to spend on a fly rod.
Today, on a small lake in this small town, just as they've done every day since they arrived a few years ago, the white pelicans will be trout fishing. This ruffles the feathers of the owners of private Ice Lake. They're real-estate developers who buy the live trout for $2 a pound to stock their lake and are trying to sell lakefront homesites - a 3-acre lot sells for $275,000 - to fly-fishermen and other lovers of the outdoors.

But a single pelican, a large-jawed bird with a 9-foot wingspan, can eat three trout a day. At times as many as 65 of the pelicans have been seen on the lake. And while many anglers practice a catch-and-release philosophy, pelicans are from the old catch-and-digest school.
Staff writer Rich Tosches can be reached at rtosches@denverpost.com.


Lightning kills 49 pelicans as rains pound Nakuru town
Story by NATION Reporter; Publication Date: 5/6/2006

Lightning killed 49 pelicans outside Afraha Stadium in Nakuru Town in a heavy downpour yesterday.
The birds were scattered all over Kenyatta Primary School, which is next to the stadium.
A school guard, Mr Daniel Mbugua, told reporters that he saw the birds flying high before they were struck dead.
"The birds started falling down all over the place, and two fell outside the door of my house," he said. "It was terrifying."

A Standard Seven pupil, Simon Chege, who was playing football at the stadium, also told of falling birds.
"Some streetboys took one of the birds which was still alive but dazed, and slaughtered it outside the stadium," he said.
"They shared the meat and fled."
Lake Nakuru National Park senior warden Charles Muthui, an assistant director of veterinary services, Dr Michael Cheruiyot, and park research scientist Samuel Mungai arrived at the scene and supervised the collection of the dead birds.
Another bird which was still alive but dazed, was retrieved from a tree branch and taken away by deputy district veterinary officer Robert Monda, who said the carcasses would be taken to a laboratory for tests.
Dr Cheruiyot urged the residents to report any dead birds, and cautioned them against touching them.
"These deaths were caused by lightning, but we shall carry out tests," he said, referring to the bird flu scare. "We are not taking anything forgranted."
The park has about 20,000 white greater and pink-back pelicans. Those killed yesterday had pink-backs. http://www.nationmedia.com/dailynation/nmgcontententry.asp?category_id=1&newsid=72536


Pelican pilgrimage a rarity for Tahoe: Birds spotted at Crystal Bay this year, South Shore last year

May 3, Tahoe Daily Tribune; Andrew Pridgen; April 28, 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.
Click to Enlarge

"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.
Some Tahoe residents and birders were simply "stunned" to see the large white pelicans near their homes.
"I noticed them at 5 this morning," Brockway resident Gale High said Thursday morning. "Blue jays and geese I'm used to, but I've been coming her for 62 years and living here for 12 and I've never seen anything like it. I was wowed; they looked like a bunch of huge white buoys floating out there."
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."
Kay Edwards, a Cave Rock resident and birder, said she saw a single white pelican near the lake's East Shore this week.
"I live right on the lake and have since '93 and this is the only time I've seen a pelican," Edwards said. "It's incredible ..."
Birders and curious on-lookers may want to seek out the birds while they're in the basin, ornithologist Webb said, as the migration "may just be a one-time thing."
Despite the birds' apparent durability, their population has been dwindling since the turn of the 20th century, said the California Department of Fish and Game's Web site. At the time, the species nested on large lakes the entire length of California, but a decline was already underway in the 1920s, both in numbers of breeding localities and populations within surviving colonies (Grinnell and Miller 1944).
Today, there are no remaining nesting colonies in California except along the Oregon border. Destruction of nesting islands and breeding habitat are probably the main reasons for the birds' demise, the Web site said.

"Yes, I may have to even get up there this weekend," said birder Ross. "It's a special event."

photo: Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune file / A group of pelicans lands at Lake Tahoe at the mouth of the Upper Truckee River.


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