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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.

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.



click HORIZON OIL SPILL (click for selections from stories and links) and updates on pelicans and other seabirds/marine life affected by the B.P. gusher.
tracking the spilling oil: http://nyti.ms/anMcRY and bracing for impact, http://tinyurl.com/2audddf;
: Detroit Free Press gllery, May 1. 5/12: Video of the gushing oil/gas: http://tinyurl.com/2cbt8lt

To help: The IBRRC has been inundated with questions about how people can help. While those responsible for this spill are covering the cost of the Gulf clean-up, you can support the ongoing work of the non-profit organizations currently on the ground preparing to respond to oiled wildlife. You can support International Bird Rescue's ongoing rescue work by donating, becoming a member or adopting a bird, all available online here.

Please also consider donating to Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research with whom IBRRC is partnering in this ongoing effort on the Gulf Coast. (Tri-State this winter undertook the very expensive rescue operation of frost-bitten pelicans noted below in the section on Maryland pelicans; IBRRC has had the heavy costs of this past winter's California Brown Pelican problems.)


Alabama - pelicans dying and: cold... | Answers found | Avalon - a sweet story of caring | Badgers (and skunks) bail | Breton National Wildlife Refuge | CA pelicans - storm - Santa Barbara - IBRRC 1/26 | CA pelicans updates: 2/6 - Morro Bay, 2/8 - SB, 2/10 - IBRRC, 2/17 still baffled 2/20-SB | climate change issues | cruelty | DDT - awareness | domoic acid | Florida, cold | Florida - aggressive pelicans | Florida - Fort Pierce | frostbite, Del | Henry - The Friendship Continues | Horicon | IBRRC - new funding needed | Illinois - White Pelicans arrive | Maryland pelicans | Mississippi brown pelicans | Oil spill of "national significance" | Oregon coast; Bandon 3/25 |Oregon coast - pelicans dying - 1/26 | Oregon - Feds Plead | Won't "flow" south from Oregon! | Pelican Island - FL | Pity the White Pelican | Power lines - "Walter" | Reward offered |Skunk-eat-pelican-eat-trout | stomped on but recovering | Struggling to survive | Tri-State pelicans release | Ventura | White Pelicans arrive Chase Lake |White Pel. in Mo.

The perils of the pelican

May 27, 2010 Pity the pelican: misunderstood and wrongly accused of taking a bite out of trout numbers in Montana and here on the Missouri River.

Each spring the carcasses begin showing up in the river after the vandals start shooting.

Folks who live on the river between Cascade and Holter Lake call to let us know that the mayhem has begun. One here, another there, three or four there. All summer long the calls will continue.

Why shoot a pelican? Well, some people believe they eat enough trout to threaten the population. Not likely: pelicans have been here for years and the trout population on the Missouri is well within the long-term averages. :::snip:::

White pelicans — the kind we have here — can only reach as far into the water as their bills will let them.

"If a person is fishing and they play a trout and they play it and play it and it gets tired and it is near the top of the water, a pelican is going to take it. They are predators and they are opportunists," Johnson said.

Otherwise, the trout likely can escape the pelican.

In North Dakota, a study of pelicans found that the majority of their diets was salamanders, Johnson says.

The Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks website "field guide" says that pelicans are not a major predator of trout. While the diet at the four Montana colonies of white pelican has not been studied, "observations of prey remains at the Medicine Lake colony include carp, fathead minnow, suckers, northern pike, goldeye, sturgeon and adult and larval tiger salamanders."

At Canyon Ferry and Arod lakes, observers saw pelicans eating non-game fish including suckers, carp and bullheads. :::snip:::



Birds flock back to Pelican Island
Posted: 2010 May 21 - 00:41

...It looks like the birds are coming back this season," said Joanna Webb, refuge ranger.

This nesting season has seen an increase in birds finding shelter on the island

According to preliminary biologist research in late April, there are six pairs of nesting wood storks, three pairs of nesting brown pelicans and four pairs of nesting great blue herons.

Also unusual for this time of year are a high number of white pelicans roosting on the island, Ms. Webb said.

A count in April noted 28 white pelicans hanging out on the island. Various types of egrets have been seen coming and going, as well.

The arrival of the wood storks seems to be a good sign, the ranger said.

Wood storks are the only stork that breeds in North America and is the only bird that currently nests on Pelican Island that is on the federal endangered species list. :::snip:::

The island is designed to be a refuge so birds can relax without having to fear about human contact, she said. The closest anyone can go to the island is behind the water barrier clearly marked with poles around the circumference of the island.

Efforts to restore sections of the island seem to be having the desired affect, more birds coming back to nest and rest on the island, Ms. Webb said.

"It's going to pay off in the long run, we just have to be patient," she said.

To learn more about conservation efforts and animals at the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, visit www.fws.gov/pelicanisland.



Badgers, skunk bail off pelican island in Idaho ± By JOHN MILLER (AP)

– May 14, 2010 BOISE, Idaho — The badgers bailed. The skunk skedaddled. The pelicans persevere.

In April, the state Department of Fish and Game put five predators — three badgers, two skunks — on an island in the Blackfoot Reservoir in southeastern Idaho in a bid to keep American white pelicans from nesting there. :::snip:::

In 2009, Fish and Game proposed shooting pelicans and oiling their eggs to keep them from hatching.

That angered some who like the big birds. And the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the federal agency that manages migratory birds under a 1918 law, appeared likely to shoot down Idaho's proposed lethal measures after calling them an "eradication program."

As a result, Gamblin's agency decided to unleash the badgers and skunks.

That the predators bolted isn't exactly a surprise....


See also: for information on what the White Pelicans mostly eat - and it's not trout! http://www.greatfallstribune.com/article/20100527/LIFESTYLE05/5270313/The+perils+of+the+pelican

Walter gets a new walk of life: Pelican rescued near Como gets a pool ?and a paddle mate
Tuesday, May 11, 2010 6:54 PM

May 11--DURAND -- The migrating white pelican that was rescued last week after colliding with power wires near Como has lost a wing but gained a name and a roommate.

Walter, as the pelican's rescuers have named him, underwent a 2.5-hour surgery over the weekend to remove a mangled right wing and repair some internal damage to his right leg. :::snip:::

Although he's on the mend, Walter's fate still rests with of officials with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, said Tom Marini, Walter's rescuer.

"We're doing everything possible to make sure he has the best chance to recover," Marini said. "I don't want to see him suffer, but if he heals and he's OK, I think he'd make an excellent education bird to [use to] talk about what man does to nature."

The nature officials' decision will weigh Walter's quality of life -- whether the Earth-bound pelican can live out his years happily under human protection or whether he's better off euthanized. ...



..."They look like they're almost doing a dance," said Sue Long, 63, of the flocks of white pelicans that nest in the marsh. "They go up and around and then down. A lot of people don't realize how much stuff is here."...


La. Refuge Established by Teddy Roosevelt in Harm's Way

Published: May 4, 2010

BRETON NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, La. -- Nesting season is in full swing for brown pelicans on Breton Island, the southern end of a chain of barrier marshes stretched along Louisiana's Gulf Coast. :::snip:::


also: http://news.suite101.com/article.cfm/breton-national-wildlife-refuge-and-the-nesting-brown-pelicans-a232962


Pelicans nest at Chase Lake

4/29/2010 CHASE LAKE NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, near Medina, N.D. — While exact counts won’t be known until census flights are taken at the end of May, the American white pelican seem to be doing well and settling into the task of raising broods of young pelicans, said Paulette Scherr, wildlife biologist for the Arrowwood Complex. The complex includes the Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge near Medina.

“This looks like the start of a good season,” she said. “The birds started arriving at the normal time of about the first week of April. We have courtship flying going on and some birds are laying eggs and on the nests already.” :::snip:::



pelicans in oily water

Clip from 5/1 BBC story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/video_and_audio/default.stm


Breton National Wildlife Refuge and the Nesting Brown Pelicans - May 3, 2010 John Blatchford

On 2 May 2010 Scientific American reported that there is "the possibility of some oil beaching on the Chandeleur Islands ... and ... the Breton National Wildlife refuge". This would be very bad news for the Brown Pelican population of this area. :::snip:::

The refuge suffered badly when Hurricane Katrina swept past in 2005, and again in the same year when a small oil spill from a storm-damaged drilling platform was blown ashore. The hurricane destroyed many young pelicans at their nest sites, and the oil fouled the area killing many of those that were left.

U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has stated that the Deepwater Horizon accident could "leak 100,000 barrels of oil per day", making it much more serious than the 2005 spill.

Brown Pelican Nesting Sites

The nesting grounds of the Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) within the Breton National Wildlife Refuge are a critical part of their habitat.

The pelicans are at their most vulnerable to oil fouling when nesting on the ground, but even those nesting in mangrove trees are dependent on nearby fish for survival. :::snip:::



John Philips - obit


John Philips – Guardian of marine life

At the time, the issue of ocean pollutants, particularly the synthetic pesticide DDT, had become a pressing national and international issue. Phillips' research and efforts to raise awareness about the effects of DDT on brown pelicans and other marine organisms had helped lead to the first U.S. ban of the chemical in 1972. The brown pelican was listed as an endangered species in 1970.

In 1969, Phillips sent an open letter to then-Gov. Ronald Reagan, calling for a ban on DDT. The letter, signed by 60 marine scientists from 15 institutions, expressed concern of "wholesale damage to important world fisheries" and warned of the "possible loss of whole categories of animals which play important roles in preserving on the planet an environment favorable to man."

According to Baldridge, "it was evidence that was gathered at Hopkins by Phillips and others that was able to turn the tide on DDT and get control of some other pollutants."

The 1972 ban on DDT is cited as the primary reason that the brown pelican population has recovered from the brink of extinction. The bird was removed from the endangered list in 2009. :::snip:::


It's a skunk-eat-pelican-eat-trout world out there
Nicholas Neely | Apr 27, 2010 01:38 PM

Each spring, on the shores of Nevada's Pyramid Lake, fishermen in waders stand 50 feet out in the water, on stepladders, casting long, narrow loops for huge Lahontan trout. They look a little like Kodiak bears lined up on an Alaskan river. But, these men aren't the only fishers around. American white pelicans glide long, slow stretches over the lake, skimming above their coal-and-ivory reflections.

Pelicans are charismatic, and stirring to watch. So a recent dispatch from Idaho caught my attention: the state's Department of Fish and Game just released three badgers and two skunks on Gull Island in the Blackfoot Reservoir, which, like Pyramid Lake, hosts one of the 13 to 15 major breeding colonies of white pelicans in the West. These mustelids are charged with just one thing: devouring pelican eggs. The department wants to reduce the colony's populations from 2,400 birds to 700, because they apparently threaten the native Yellowstone cutthroat trout that live in the reservoir and spawn in the Blackfoot River. They also scarf up stocked rainbow trout, to the aggravation of anglers. :::snip:::




NSBNEWS.net videos by Sera Frederick

The video shows bird rescuer Marilyn Sullivan appealing to the city to put up signs informing people not to feed pelicans because it makes them more aggressive and dependent on humans for food.

NEW SMYRNA BEACH -- Bird rescuer Marilyn Sullivan appealed to the City Commission to put up signs alerting people not to feed pelicans.

"They are getting so aggressive because people are feeding them," she said. "It is against the law in Florida to feed pelicans." Sullivan said that perhaps if people stopped feeding the pelicans they'd become less aggressive.

City Manager Pam Brangaccio told the commissioners that not only could the city put up signs, but also put an announcement on the Web site, which the city had posted for several weeks.

Here is a link to Florida law prohibiting the feeding of pelicans:


15 Brown Pelicans found dead, cause unknown
April 12, 2010 3:56 PM

Fort Pierce- 15 Brown Pelicans were found dead earlier today near Taylor Creek spillway in Fort Pierce. Florida Fish and Wildlife says it appears that the birds had been there for some time, and that there are no obvious signs of trauma. The birds may have been poisoned in some way.

Brown Pelicans are protected under both state and federal laws. Authorities suggest that if they become a nuissance you dispose of any scraps of food, particularly fish, quickly. It is illegal to harass and feed them. Brown Pelicans are very social birds who often travel in large flocks and will return to spots where they have found previous sources of food. If they find spots where they recieve "free meals" they wont migrate and will suffer from exposure to the cold.

The Brown Pelican was placed on the endangered species list in 1970. After the 1972 ban on DDT the species' reproduction rates improved significantly, and in 1985 was removed from the endangered species list. http://www.cbs12.com/articles/brown-4725377-pelicans-species.html


Tri-State Bird Rescue to release rehabilitated pelicans

Posted Apr 09, 2010 @ 04:14 PM Newark, Del. —

Three months after their arrival at Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research, 16 rehabilitated brown pelicans are being prepared for their return to the wild. (see the linked Maryland story for the rescue.)

These pelicans were brought to Tri-State from southern Maryland in early January, suffering from frostbite and starvation as a result of the early freeze in December. The birds were given life-saving medical care as well as a steady diet of fish, and have continued to be housed at Tri-State awaiting warmer weather.

Now that the temperature has warmed and other pelicans are returning to the southern Chesapeake Bay area, these healthy birds can be released.

In anticipation of their upcoming departure, Tri-State staff gave each bird a final medical evaluation to ensure that it is healthy and will be able to survive in the wild. Each pelican was fitted with a permanent metal band, so it can be identified and tracked if spotted by the public or wildlife biologists.

In cooperation with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Tri-State will return these birds to their home in the Chesapeake Bay on Monday. With the help of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service biologists, the pelicans will be transported by boat and released into an island colony.

By introducing them to an existing flock that did migrate, Tri-State and local officials hope that these birds will not stay too long in the area next winter.

“This couldn't have been done without the support of our dedicated volunteers who cared for the pelicans rain or shine and the generosity of the donors who enabled us to purchase thousands of pounds of fish to feed the pelicans,” said Tri-State’s executive director, Heidi Stout, VMD.
Copyright 2010 Sussex Countian. Some rights reserved http://www.sussexcountian.com/newsnow/x863092462/Tri-State-Bird-Rescue-to-release-rehabilitated-pelicans

Pelicans drop in at Nelson Lake

March 26, 2010
By NICK SWEDBERG For Sun-Times Media

BATAVIA -- It took some doing for Jennifer Duncan and her husband to convince her mother Marie Moulton that she wasn't kidding about the giant birds down the street.

Who could blame Duncan, a 47-year-old North Aurora resident? Pelicans with nine-foot wingspans in a Kane County pond aren't exactly an everyday occurrence. :::snip:::

For two or three weeks, the northbound pelicans will rest in Illinois before continuing their journey to Canada or the far northern states. They have used the marshy lake as a layover for about a decade on their annual migration from the south. On Thursday, the birds were alse seen swooping and diving in a pond alongside the Prestbury subdivision near Sugar Grove. :::snip:::

As the weather warms, more will start to show up, Metanchuk said.

The lake also contains plenty of fish, and human activity near the lake is limited. When birds visit, they'll bring their young ones with them and they learn to come back to the same lake, local experts said.

While the lake has been there much longer, the birds only have been using it as a layover destination for the last several years. Metanchuk credits the efforts to preserve the natural marsh area as part of the reason they flock there.

"We like to think that if you build the right habitat for them ... they will come there," she said.



BANDON - Large numbers of hungry brown pelicans remain in the port along docks and rock jetties. Viewing Outlook: March 25, 2010 http://www.mailtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100325/LIFE/3250303

Pelican, ’stomped on’ by fisherman, recovers
March 19th, 2010, 2:39 pm · 24 Comments · posted by Pat Brennan, green living, environment editor

A California brown pelican whose beak was stomped on and crushed by a fisherman is recovering at a Huntington Beach care center, though the bird must heal further before being released.

The bird was injured Sunday when it swooped down on a fish on the Newport Beach pier that belonged to fisherman Daniel Moreno III, 19, of Perris, Calif.

Moreno was accused of stomping on the pelican’s beak and splitting it. He was arrested on suspicion of cruelty to animals, said Newport Beach police Sgt. Steve Burdette. :::snip:::


(All pelicans are protected by Migratory Bird Treaty Act, with penalties for a misdemeanor conviction of up 6 months in jail and a $15,000 fine for harming. See here for the legal protections.)

Answers Found to Pelican Mass Stranding Mystery

The California Department of Fish and Game (CDFG) is reporting that the primary causes of the recent Brown Pelican mass stranding (involving varying degrees of incapacitation of hundreds of birds) along the Oregon and California Coast are related to shortages of preferred prey items, such as anchovies and sardines, and rough winter weather likely related to the current El Niño event.

CDFG, the U.S. Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center, Sea World San Diego and the International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) pooled their efforts to determine the causes for the bird deaths and strandings, and ruled out infectious disease and marine toxins as major contributory factors. Some pelicans have had waterproofing problems with their feathers, possibly related to storm runoff from recent heavy coastal rains.

More than 300 birds are being rehabilitated at the IBRRC facilities in San Pedro and Cordelia, California. CDFG has been donating frozen trout to organizations conducting the rescue feeding. Rehabilitation has been taking one to two weeks and rescued birds are said to be responding well to treatment. Birds first became stranded around the middle of January but the numbers being recovered each day have greatly diminished in recent days.

“When you allow overfishing of any seabird’s prey base and then compound that with impacts from El Nino events, which may become stronger or more common with climate change, you are spelling disaster for the bird. Their prey bases have got to be better protected if they are to survive long term,” said Dr. Jessica Hardesty Norris, American Bird Conservancy Seabird Program Director.

http://www.surfbirds.com/sbirdsnews/archives/2010/03/answers_found_t.html, March 13, 2010


Brown pelicans won't flow south from Oregon coast and that worries scientists

By Lynne Terry, The Oregonian
March 12, 2010, 6:06PM

Unlike past years, they've refused to return to California.

In January, scientists were stunned to see hundreds of brown pelicans that normally fly south before winter lingering on the Oregon coast.

Now it's March and dozens are still here.

"This is a first for us," said Roy Lowe, seabird specialist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Biologists are worried. :::snip::: http://www.oregonlive.com/news/index.ssf/2010/03/brown_pelicans_wont_flow_south.html

(includes readers' comments.)


The friendship continues

By Mike Odom, Staff Writer
(Created: Sunday, March 7, 2010 10:05 AM CST)

FAIRHOPE, Ala. — “She’s been a big part of my life,” said James Blevins this week of his brown pelican buddy who goes by the name of Henry, but which he now thinks is a female bird. A girl pelican named Henry. If only Johnny Cash were still alive to write a song about it.

On a bitterly cold morning this week, James Blevins keeps watch for Henry the pelican, while armed with a bagful of fish for his good friend. Blevins travels more than a mile every morning by motorized cart to check up on Henry. The pelican disappeared recently for reasons explained in the article, but she’s back now, to James’ great relief. :::snip:::

The relationship between James and Henry has reached near mythic status, with many unbelievers, until they see man and bird together. Their story has even become memorialized in a children’s book published last year by a local author, who also had to shake her head in wonder when she saw Henry waddling along behind James on his motorized cart, right there along Mobile Bay on a sidewalk. :::snip::: http://www.baldwincountynow.com/articles/2010/03/07/local_news/doc4b916b85175e8587593883.txt

Background to the story: http://www.americanprofile.com/heroes/article/29732.html

and: with a video: http://www.wkrg.com/alabama/article/the_pelican/19166/Sep-30-2008_12-14-am/


Brown pelicans in Mississippi
Louisiana's state bird continues its comeback

February 22, 2010

OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (AP) — They glide so gracefully over the Mississippi Sound and their landings look smooth and effortless. Even on a cold winter’s day, you can catch them plunging for fish or perching with their friends on a pier.

“When flying, they’re the most majestic beautiful birds you ever saw,” said Doug Hunt, with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “When doing anything else, they’re pretty laughable. They’re clumping around.”

Hunt has worked closely with brown pelicans for the past 12 years.He remembers those years when the pelicans were not so plentiful.

“I moved to Biloxi in 1986,” Hunt said. “I saw two pelicans that year, and I worked on Ship Island all summer.”

Brown pelicans were nowhere to be found in Mississippi or Louisiana in the early 60s. :::snip:::



Pelicans eat through bird-rescue group's budget
The San Pedro nonprofit is shoveling out $11,000 a month to feed hundreds of ravenous birds that turned up sick last month along the West Coast.

Afternoon feeding time creates a frenzy around the outside aviary at the International Bird Rescue Research Center in San Pedro, where scores of pelicans have been rehabilitated and returned to the wild. (Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times) Photos: Saving starving pelicans Photos: Saving starving pelicans

By Jill Leovy February 20, 2010

The San Pedro nonprofit group charged with treating sick pelicans is suffering an affliction of its own: strapped finances.

That's because a cold and starving pelican eats a whopping 6 pounds of fish a day -- half its body weight.

Hundreds of brown pelicans turned up dead or ailing along the West Coast in January after what researchers said was a miscalculation: They strayed to the far northern edge of their range, stayed too long and ran out of food. When they came south, they found food scant here too.

So they turned up listless on beaches or begging for food in parking lots, and were rescued by San Pedro's Oiled Bird Care and Education Center.

The facility is run by the International Bird Rescue Research Center, which has a $1.1-million annual budget and is one of the largest in the state's network of groups that rescue birds affected by oil spills.

The group was able to save about two-thirds of the 435 pelicans it has treated so far at its two coastal centers, but the effort has meant shoveling out $11,000 a month for pelican all-you-can-eat seafood dinners.


The pelican episode has made it clear that their efforts must expand beyond oil spill response, Kelway said.

The group has long aided injured birds. But now organizers want to establish a well-funded service for mass rescues of wildlife of all kinds, Kelway said. That means less reliance on oil spill money and more fundraising, he said.

The shift comes as other large die-offs unrelated to oil spills have increased in recent years, including those caused by algae blooms, he said. But there is another driver: public attitudes. "What was exposed here was a public expectation that someone will come take care of these animals," Kelway said.

In some ways, bird rescue is a victim of its own success: Californians now assume when they see a sick bird that someone will care for it, he said.

For now, although pelicans have eaten through much of the bird-rescue group's food budget for the entire year, organizers say that while their finances are spare, they are beginning to develop new sources of support.

Meanwhile, the pelicans are recovering.



Pelicans at Risk

Mysterious Illness Afflicts California Natives
Saturday, February 20, 2010
By Rachel Mattovich

Though they were removed from both the state and federal endangered species lists in 2009, California brown pelicans are coming dangerously close to extinction once again—after inhabiting the earth for more than 40 million years.

Since the middle of January, from the coast of San Diego to the beaches of Oregon, hundreds of brown pelicans have been coming ashore distressed or dead. In Santa Barbara County alone, the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network is currently caring for more than 40 of the seabirds in its small, private home care unit :::snip::: http://independent.com/news/2010/feb/20/pelicans-risk/


There have been occasional references to domoic acid as a possible cause of the pelicans' recent issues. Science Friday has an interesting discussion of the toxin domoic acid/algal blooms and effects on sea lions: http://www.wbur.org/npr/123892168 NOAA scientist John Ramsdell mentions how anchovies, a main food of pelicans, concentrate domoic acid.


Wave of ill brown pelicans baffles scientists

Matthai Kuruvila, Chronicle Staff Writer - Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Brown pelicans, whose wave-skimming and dive-bombing for fish are familiar to people who spend time on the California coast, have been mysteriously falling ill and dying by the hundreds over the past few weeks. :::snip:::

Changed diet

In addition, necropsies of the pelicans have shown that the birds are eating prey, such as certain worms, inconsistent with their normal diet of anchovies and sardines.

"We're still scratching our heads," said Esther Burkett, a wildlife biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game.

The contamination of bird feathers typically happens with an oil spill. One theory is that the winter storms have increased storm runoff, resulting in more oil and grease on the shoreline.

Because brown pelicans are a near-shore species, they might be more affected by runoff than other birds, Burkett said.

Officials said they don't know why the birds' diet has changed. :::snip:::

Effect of El Niño

Another factor may be El Niño, which diminishes the population of zooplankton, the food of choice for anchovies, which the birds eat, Burkett said. The stormy seas also may be making it more difficult for the pelicans to see their food, she said.

Workers at the bird rescue center have been somewhat taken aback by the number of birds coming in, and they are struggling to keep up with their care. When an oil spill is the cause, there are clear funding sources, said Paul Kelway, a spokesman. But in this situation, the nonprofit center is picking up much of the cost - such as the 1,000 pounds of fish a day needed to feed the ailing birds. :::snip:::



LOS ANGELES — California brown pelicans have recently been dying in large numbers for reasons wildlife officials don't yet fully understand.

Organizations like the International Bird Rescue Research Center are maxed out, with no more room and little money left to help, spokesman Paul Kelway said.

There are usually about 400 pelicans among the more than 2,000 birds the San Pedro center takes in every year, but it has received more than 300 pelicans in the last three weeks. About 100 sick pelicans (63, including 10 to the Morro Bay Pacific Wildlife Care, according to the SBWCN) from Santa Barbara were sent to the IBRRC's Northern California center, and a quarter of all the pelicans received at the two centers in the last three weeks have died, Kelway said.

"Many of them were severely emaciated and hypothermic, and we couldn't get to them in time," Kelway said.

The Southern California center released 14 pelicans Wednesday afternoon to make room for more of the ailing birds. :::snip:::

Some parts of Los Angeles County have received close to 12 inches of rain in the last few weeks. The birds, already weak from lack of food, have gotten soaked, and in the ocean they've found themselves bathed in a murky runoff goo that has coated their already faltering feathers with a layer of grease. Another possible cause is an algae bloom, Kelway said.

Feathers have been taken from the sick birds and sent to a lab, he said.

When there is no food in the water, the birds will look on land, Kelway said, and they're ailing in very public places — on piers, at restaurants, hotels, harbors and beaches.

"People are upset," he said. "They expect us to rescue these birds."

About 1,000 California brown pelicans stayed in Oregon this year instead of migrating south to breeding grounds.

It could be a natural pelican die-off, Kelway said, but biologists don't know yet. :::snip:::



Santa Barbara Seabird Pond comes to aid of distressed pelicans : Recent rains, mysterious affliction have taken toll on local populations


During the recent rainstorms, the concern of many residents was directed toward roadway flooding and the potential for mudslides to occur in local burn areas. Few area residents, however, have been made aware of another troubling storm-related issue that can potentially devastate the local ecosystem.

As a result of this year's heavy rains, brown pelicans throughout the Central Coast and Oregon have been suffering from hypothermia and starvation at an alarming rate. Over the past month alone, more than 100 of the ill sea birds have been discovered in the area between Port Hueneme and Lompoc — especially at Ventura Harbor and throughout Santa Barbara City beaches — and brought to the Seabird Pond in Santa Barbara for desperately needed medical attention and food.

"This is the worst year I've ever seen, and I've been doing this for 11 years," said June Taylor, manager of the Seabird Pond. The Seabird Pond is a Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network satellite facility that cares for sick and injured sea birds. :::snip::: http://www.newspress.com/Top/Article/article.jsp?Section=LOCAL&ID=565805038031732832 (paid subscriber access only.)


Sick pelicans overwhelm local rescue centers
Organizations apply for state, federal help while they search for the cause of illness
By David Sneed | dsneed@thetribunenews.com

Officials from wildlife rescue organizations in the state say they are struggling with an influx of starving brown pelicans.

Rescue centers in Southern California have been hit hardest. Almost 500 sick pelicans have been brought in statewide since the first of the year.

The large seabirds — all adults — are coming in weak, starving and occasionally injured, said Dani Nicholson, president of Pacific Wildlife Care. The group’s Morro Bay rehabilitation center has gotten 20 pelicans since the first of the year.

“It’s unprecedented,” she said. “We’re overwhelmed.”

Wildlife veterinarians are trying to determine the cause of the influx, Nicholson said. Toxic algal blooms, battering by recent storms and disruptions in the marine food chain caused by the El Niño weather event are all possibilities.

The birds are typically found standing disoriented in the middle of a road or some other unusual place. In addition to the pelicans rescued locally, the Morro Bay hospital is taking them from overwhelmed hospitals in Southern California.

The influx has caused four rescue organizations, including Pacific Wildlife Care, to appeal to state and federal authorities for help. They are afraid they may have to close their doors temporarily in order to cope, said Jay Holcomb of the International Bird Rescue Research Center, which operates facilities in the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay areas.

“Members of the public are reporting sightings of sick and dying birds with increasing frequency, and there may be a negative reaction if there is an expectation of care for these birds but no resources to respond,” he said.

In spite of the crisis, Pacific Wildlife Care rescuers say people should continue to report sick or stranded pelicans by calling 543-9453 or 772-9453.

Reach David Sneed at 781-7930. http://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/local/story/1018180.html


Brown pelicans struggling to survive

Kim Murphy, February 5, 2010

Reporting from Astoria, Ore. - All along the Oregon coast over the last month, hundreds of brown pelicans have turned up dead, starving or begging for food.

As many as 1,000 of the gangly seabirds failed to make their annual fall migration to California, many instead winding up at Oregon's rehabilitation centers.

Those that did head south, leaving the Pacific Northwest winter behind, were battered by California's recent storms. Shelters in San Pedro and the San Francisco Bay Area are also full of emaciated pelicans.

Researchers, at a loss to explain the casualties, are looking at unusual ocean currents and the depletion of fish stocks -- as well as warmer temperatures, toxic runoff and algae blooms -- as possible causes.

Meanwhile, pelicans are sitting listlessly on beaches and scavenging outside restaurants and canneries. :::snip::::



Feds plead: Don't feed the pelicans — Thursday, January 28, 2010

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been receiving calls about California brown pelicans that are either washing up dead on the Oregon coast or exhibiting behavior that is uncharacteristic for the species, for example, begging for food, having no fear of humans and eating bread crumb handouts.

Many of the birds are emaciated or starving, and this is the reason for their seeming lack of fear of humans, a press release from USFWS said. :::snip:::

Recent storms and high winds have limited the pelicans’ ability to hunt and dive for food. These and other unknown factors contribute to the pelicans’ behavior of begging for food. The USFWS discourages hand-feeding pelicans, as their diet is very specific. The well-intentioned feeding of bones and heads of fish to pelicans can cause damage to their throat pouch. Also, fish bait can be contaminated with harmful bacteria or may be treated with chemicals to promote better fishing or preserve the bait, but it can make a pelican very ill.

The pelicans are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which makes it illegal :::snip:::

If the bird is in the area of the coast from Florence south to Gold Beach, call Free Flight Bird and Marine Mammal Rehabilitation at 541-347-3882. You can visit their Web site at http://www.freeflight-wildlife.org.

If the bird is in the area of the coast from Astoria to Yachats, call the Wildlife Center of the North Coast at (503) 338-3954 or visit http://www.coastwildlife.org/Home.html.


Science News
Pelicans starve along Oregon coast — Published: Jan. 29, 2010 at 3:04 PM

ASTORIA, Ore., Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Scores of brown pelicans that failed to migrate south have starved or been injured along Oregon's coast this winter, biologists said.

The birds are some of the estimated 20,000 brown pelicans that live along the Oregon coast in warmer months and migrate to Southern California and Mexico for the winter to breed.

A shift in ocean and wind patterns, which could be related to climate change, provided an abundance of bait fish for the pelicans to eat through last month.

Now, the food supply has moved into deeper waters, forcing the pelicans to come ashore to hunt for food around piers, backyards and beaches, The (Portland) Oregonian reported Friday.

"This is the most (pelicans) we've ever seen here in January," said Roy Lowe of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife office in Newport.

Dozens have starved to death, while an estimated 100 dying and injured pelicans were being treated at the Wildlife Center of the North Coast near Astoria. http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2010/01/29/Pelicans-starve-along-Oregon-coast/UPI-46421264795454/


SAN PEDRO -- Nearly 70 California brown pelicans have been rescued by wildlife officials after days of heavy rains and flooding in Southern California.

"As well as coping with the storms, many of the pelicans we have received have seal bite injuries, a result of feeding frenzies due to commercial and public fishing. These injuries make it even more difficult for the birds to cope with the severe weather conditions out there this week."

Over the next week, workers will feed the birds, warm them up, wash them off and get them ready for release. That process could take five to seven days per bird. ...

Treatment costs about $500 a bird, Kelway said.


video on hypothermia treatment: http://www.ktla.com/news/landing/ktla-video-pelican-treatment,0,959365.tivideo


AVALON, CATALINA ISLAND - "Good Time Charlie" was having a bad day.

Charlie, a brown pelican who frequented the mole in Avalon, had for reasons unknown - perhaps trying to free himself from a tangle of fishing line - suffered a compound fracture of his wing. His other wing was deformed at birth. :::snip:::

With a little tender loving care, and some creative acrylic work to rebuild the bird's beak, Boo Boo, along with Good Time Charlie, were well enough to leave the Animal Hospital. Although they won't be able to fly again, the birds will have a comfortable life on the mainland as educational ambassadors at a rescue center.

Back on Catalina, Richard and Anney Denney continue the challenge of caring for Island pets and wildlife. And as for birds, the Denneys see a sick or injured one just about every week. Aside from fishermen who drop off portions of their catch to help feed them, no one picks up the tab for the life-saving care provided for lucky birds like Good Time Charlie. :::snip:::



Pelicans found dead during cold snap suffered in final days
By Ben Raines
January 26, 2010, 8:01AM

MOBILE, Ala. -- Autopsy results from a handful of the 100-plus sea birds found dead on Dauphin Island and the Fort Morgan peninsula during the recent cold snap paint a picture of the animals' bleak final days.

With signs of frostbite and gangrene visible on their webbed feat, the autopsies showed that the birds died of starvation. One pelican had internal injuries from a hunk of wood it had eaten, suggesting that food had been hard to find just before it died.

The same cold front that forced the birds to hunker down behind sand dunes also drove the bait fish that pelicans, terns and gulls eat into deeper water. :::snip:::

http://blog.al.com/live/2010/01/pelicans_found_dead_during_col.html (pix)


Brown Pelicans are dying on the Oregon coast - Story Updated: Jan 27, 2010 at 11:24 AM PST

OREGON COAST - Brown Pelicans are washing up dead along the Oregon coast and those that are surviving are starving and begging for food from beachcombers, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

According to wildlife officials, the pelicans usually head south in large numbers in October. But this winter, a large number of them stayed along the Oregon coast and recent storms and high winds have limited their ability to hunt and dive for food.

Should you feed them?

The answer is NO. The pelicans have a particular diet and despite your good intentions, you may be doing them more harm than good. For example, feeding them the bones and heads of fish can cause damage to their throat pouch and fish bait may be contaminated with harmful bacteria or be treated with chemicals that can make a pelican very ill.

What can you do?

If you come across a Brown Pelican that appears to be starving...

* If the bird is in the area of the coast from Astoria to Yachats, call the Wildlife Center of the North Coast at (503) 338-3954.
* If the bird is in the area of the coast from Florence south to Gold Beach, call Free Flight Bird Rehabilitation at (541) 347-3882.

If you come across a dead Brown Pelican...

* Leave it where you found it. Under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act it is illegal to possess any part of a migratory bird, dead or alive.
* Contact the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team at (206) 221-6893.

http://www.katu.com/outdoors/featured/82708672.html - Comments (10)

More on this:
Calif. brown pelicans linger on Oregon coast

By STEVEN DUBOIS Associated Press Writer
Posted: 01/26/2010 05:51:24 PM PST
Updated: 01/26/2010 05:51:25 PM PST

PORTLAND, Ore.—California brown pelicans are begging for food on the Oregon coast rather than migrating south to breeding grounds.

An estimated 1,000 brown pelicans have remained on the state's coast, an unheard of number at a time of year when they should be in Mexico or Southern California. About 50 birds have died, but wildlife officials expect the number to escalate, said Dawn Grafe, visitor services manager for the Oregon Coast Wildlife Refuge Complex.

Pelican die-offs, however, are not uncommon, and Julia Parrish, a seabird biologist at the University of Washington, cautions that it's too early to say if this will be "a big story or a blip on the radar screen."

"Nobody's knee-deep in pelicans that we know of," she said.

Brown pelicans have steadily been expanding north. They typically migrated from Oregon and Washington in October or November, but they lingered until late December last winter. No one is certain why there are still here in late January, but theories range from the weather to an abundance of bait fish in early winter that enticed them to stay. Strong winds and severe storms have limited the pelicans' ability to hunt and dive for food that has since been pushed by currents to deeper waters, Grafe said.

"They don't have the energy," Grafe said. "They're so emaciated, so starving."

So the pelicans try to survive on bread crumbs or anything else they can get from humans. Typically unapproachable, the birds are surrounding visitors who come to see the breeding plumage—a look not seen in summer months.

Karen Munson of Brookings, who describes herself as a casual bird-watcher, saw about a dozen pelicans Monday at the Port of Brookings Harbor. She said some walked right up to her Jeep Wrangler, close enough to touch if she were inclined to roll down the window, which she wasn't.

"They do go right up to people," she said. "I saw one of them pull a man's jacket."

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has urged residents not to feed the pelicans, saying it will further disrupt their migration patterns. People who find a starving or injured bird are asked to leave it alone and contact a wildlife rehabilitation center, such as the Astoria-based Wildlife Center of the North Coast or the Bandon-based Free Flight Bird Rehabilitation.

On the Net:




California brown pelicans battered by rain, runoff
The Associated Press
Posted: 01/22/2010 11:19:26 AM PST

LOS ANGELES—Wildlife officials say they have collected nearly 70 California brown pelicans in two counties who have been battered by rains and runoff. Officials at the International Bird Rescue Research Center in San Pedro say they are gearing up for dozens more.

Most of the birds are suffering from hypothermia, their feathers stained by oil and grease from massive runoff. Unable to get dry or warm, the birds' immune systems start failing and birds become weak.

Center spokesman Paul Kelway says there are 33 pelicans already being treated at the center and Santa Barbara County authorities are bringing in 36.

Kelway says crews are also in Santa Monica where they've got reports that dozens of the birds are in trouble.

Authorities say they have found two dead pelicans and two died after arriving at the center.


Washing off the contaminants, one of the week's top photos. While waterproof feathers usually allow pelicans to float and stay insulated from weather changes, the current massive runoff from storms has brought even more grease, car oil sheen, fish oils and other forms of surface pollution into the coastal areas where these birds feed. Link.

Trash on the beaches from the storms: http://www.dailybreeze.com/news/ci_14265817


And in Santa Barbara:

Hungry Pelicans Hit the Streets
Loss of Harbor’s Bait Dock Sends Birds Searching for Alternative Food Sources

Saturday, January 23, 2010
by ANNA POLLOCK Comments (9)

Distressed pelicans gathered on Cabrillo Boulevard Thursday due to winter storms and diminishing food sources. One of the main causes of the unusual event was reportedly the city’s removal of a key food source for local pelicans — the harbor’s bait dock — which was moved in anticipation of this week’s storms. :::snip::: (NB: the bait barge was not used for feeding pelicans, but for roosting.)



KSDK -- The World Bird Sanctuary in Valley Park is dealing with two unique cases.

A couple found a white pelican in their yard. The bird has a hurt wing. Veterinarians suspect the bird may have landed on a pond overnight and its wing froze in the water.

The sanctuary is also caring for an osprey. It has two hurt wings. Two bald eagles attacked the bird near Bennett Springs.

Veterinarians say it's very rare to see either bird in our area this time of the year. They suspect both will be ok and able to be released back into the wild.


Cold Kills More Than 100 Birds

by Jamie Burch
Published: Tue, January 12, 2010 - 1:52 pm CST

PELICAN ISLAND, Alabama - Biologists with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are investigating the deaths of at least 100 birds.

The birds, mainly brown pelicans, were found on the southern tip of Pelican Island, also known as Sand Island. :::snip::: “Local residents tell us it’s not uncommon for juvenile birds to die in colder temperatures," said Tuttle. “(But) a mortality rate this high is too unusual to be ignored.”

Last week, News 5 found a few dead pelicans on Dauphin Island. Experts at the Sea Lab told us they too were most likely killed by the cold. http://www.wkrg.com/weather/article/cold_kills_more_than_100_birds/641544/Jan-12-2010_1-53-pm/



Reward offered to help find who injured nearly a dozen pelicans

By Amy.Hotz@StarNewsOnline.com; Published: Tuesday, January 12, 2010 at 6:57 p.m.

The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust are offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for breaking the wings of 10 brown pelicans along Brunswick County beaches. :::snip:::

“There’s no other explanation. I’ve had more than 50 pelicans this year. I had 40 last year,” she said. “This is pretty precise. It’s always the left wing. It’s always between the elbow and the shoulder and it is splintered from the inside out as though somebody were putting it across his knee or across the railing on a boat. It’s pretty descriptive. There couldn’t be another way to do that.”

If you find a pelican with an injury of this nature, contact local law enforcement.

If you have any information about this case, contact the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission at 800-662-7137.


Amy Hotz: 343-2099 On Twitter.com: @AmyHotz


Pelicans with broken wings turning up on local beaches

Published December 31, 2009

“I don’t know what’s going on but it’s really, really discouraging that someone could be this incredibly cruel,” Rogers said. http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/20091231/ARTICLES/912319981


State rescues pelicans in Southern Maryland that failed to migrate for winter

RIDGE, MD - JANUARY 8: Maryland Department of Natural Resources and local wildlife rehabilitators are trying to capture and rescue a group of freezing brown pelicans that failed to migrate last year from Ridge, MD on January 8, 2010. In recent years the pelicans have failed to leave. Some speculate that they are feeding on fish from a nearby stream thru November. About 15 pelicans have died from the weather here and those that are rescued are sent to Tri State Bird Rescue in Delaware.

By David A. Fahrenthold
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 9, 2010

This is the lesson of the frozen pelicans of Southern Maryland: It is one thing to believe in natural selection.

It is another thing to watch it.

This week, as a curtain of bitter cold descended on the region, about 40 brown pelicans were spotted -- starving, freezing and in danger of dying -- on a wind-blasted shoreline in St. Mary's County. They weren't supposed to be there: The birds, relatively new arrivals on the Chesapeake Bay, usually migrate south to escape mid-Atlantic winters.

But these birds didn't get the message. They stayed behind.

At the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, officials knew the normal thing to do would be to leave the birds to an ugly, frigid fate. In the wild, after all, evolution doesn't give mulligans.

But this week, most of the birds were rescued by the state, and they're waiting out the winter in a Delaware shelter that provides heat and therapeutic foot baths.:::snip:::


More on this: http://www.delmarvanow.com/article/20100120/DCP01/1200301


Where Did SF Bay's Sea Lions Go? Try Oregon Coast

There have been noticeably fewer pelicans in Santa Barbara so far this winter and the reason probably is that many, along with SF's sea lions, are still feasting in Oregon, 500 miles north around Florence.

..."Kim Raum-Suryan, a biologist at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, noticed the number of California sea lions at Heceta Head had doubled to some 5,000 in December and, like other scientists, figures the simple answer is food.

My gut feeling is it has something to do with the (ocean warming) El Nino conditions off California, which is driving prey and sea lions up north," she said.

There are fewer herrings in San Francisco Bay, and a general decline in sea lion food off California last summer triggered a die-off of young sea lions making the transition from mother's milk to fish.

:::snip::: Meanwhile, anchovies have been plentiful in Oregon waters — so plentiful that brown pelicans that normally winter in California are also hanging around, said Bob Emmett, a fisheries biologist for NOAA Fisheries Service in Newport :::snip"


See also the SFGate story on the sea lions attracted to Oregon: "The question on everyone's mind lately has been: Where have San Francisco's famous sea lions gone? The answer might lie about 500 miles north of the Golden Gate, where an estimated 2,000 sea lions have recently arrived off the central Oregon coast. :::snip:::" http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/01/06/MN281BE41C.DTL


Cold-stunned pelicans (and other creatures) brought in for care:

"In the first six days of 2010, 29 birds have been brought to the MSC," said Rachelle LeBlanc, bird rehabilitation specialist. "Last year, 16 birds came in during the same time period. We have received a
wide variety of birds, including 12 brown pelicans, four northern gannets, three laughing gulls and two common loons."

:::snip::: "In the first six days of 2010, 29 birds have been brought to the MSC," said Rachelle LeBlanc, bird rehabilitation specialist. "Last year, 16 birds came in during the same time period. We have received a
wide variety of birds, including 12 brown pelicans, four northern gannets, three laughing gulls and two common loons." :::snip:::



The brown pelican makes a comeback

By Chuck Graham 01/07/2010

Once teetering on the brink of extinction, California brown pelicans are now flourishing along the Golden State’s seashore. They’re commonly seen along our scenic coastline and especially the offshore Channel Islands archipelago, majestically gliding above the ocean, or roosting on guano-covered rocks. :::snip:::

The delisting of brown pelicans means federal agencies no longer need to consider effects from approving developments like roads, because brown pelicans have rebounded so well after being listed for 40 years. However, with DDT still in the ecosystem, scientists will continue to monitor population levels.



Published: Wednesday, January 6, 2010 1:40 PM CST

Donations needed at Tri-State in Delaware as hungry, frostbitten pelicans from Maryland head to Newark; they're immature adult pelicans that failed to migrate to warmer climates.

A large group of brown pelicans suffering from frostbite have been identified in southern Maryland and will soon be on their way to Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research’s rehabilitation center in Newark.

In cooperation with Maryland Department of Natural Resources and local Maryland rehabilitators, many of these birds have been captured and are awaiting transport to Tri-State.Go to tristatebird.org for information or call 302-737-9543

ALSO: Frostbitten pelicans fight to survive; see WindStar Wildlife Institute: http://www.windstar.org/knowledge_center_article.cfm?articleID=326


Delaware Online

Bird count tallies its 110th Christmas
Annual effort tracks spread and health of American species

Back in the early winters of 1987 and 1988, a group of Delaware birdwatchers counted every bird species they saw over a three-week period.

The most spectacular finding though, was a species they didn't see: snow geese -- not one.

Fast forward to December 2008 and early January 2009. The count for snow geese: 348,581.

The data collected in the annual Christmas Bird Count -- the longest, continuous running snapshot of early winter bird populations in the Western Hemisphere -- gives scientists an early warning when species are declining, an indication when they are growing or rebounding and the tools they need to make policy decisions on climate change, habitat fragmentation and recommendations on steps individuals can take to make a difference.


Butcher said that many birds move great distances to find suitable food and habitat. The big question is how far they will be able to move in the face of climate change before they run out of habitat, food or even luck.

"The longterm picture is not good for many species, and even in the short term, a single harsh winter could have a devastating impact on birds that have moved too far," he said.

That happened during the winter of 2007, when a flock of brown pelicans tried to winter on the Delmarva Peninsula. Several of the birds died when their feet were frozen to the ice and others were treated for frost bite at Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research, near Newark.



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