Every Bird Matters
news and views from international bird rescue

Posts Tagged ‘pelicans’

August 8, 2008

Pelican update: Video of thousands of birds


From Rebecca Dmytryk Titus, who is helping coordinate the Pelican response in Santa Cruz County:

We arrived at the Cement Ship fishing pier on Seacliff Beach to find thousands of birds near shore feeding on bait fish (see video above). We did see three pelicans with line, none we could approach for a successful capture. It was good to see the ship was closed to fishing and people, for the most part, we’re letting the birds be.

Found a tangled or weak bird that needs immediate care? Please call the wildlife hotline at 866-WILD-911.

IBRRC is treating a high number of young pelicans caught in fishing line and long-line hooks. Both of our centers are overwhelmed with birds in car. The fish bill alone for this crisis will cost us $20,000. If you can help us with a donation, please do so. Donate now or adopt-a-pelican. Thanks!

August 8, 2008

Fishing pier finally closed at Capitola Wharf

After pressure from locals and wildlife rescuers, the Capitola Wharf was finally shutdown for fishing in an effort to prevent pelicans from becoming entangled in fishing line and hooks.

IBRRC has been rescuing a lot of young brown pelicans along Santa Cruz County beaches after thousands of the birds descended on area fishing areas. The cement ship fishing pier in Aptos was closed earlier in the week to prevent more carnage as pelicans got tangled in fishing lines and were snared by long line fish hooks.

See the ABC-TV report

Read earlier post: Crisis continues for Brown Pelicans along coast

August 7, 2008

Crisis continues for Brown Pelicans along coast

In the last few days our Northern California rehabilitation center, located in Fairfield, received another 25 brown pelicans from the Santa Cruz area. That makes a total of 137 pelicans this year in Northern California alone and 115 of those pelicans have come in since June 15th! Until recently they have been mostly young birds that are learning to fish and are feeding on large schools of anchovies and sardines that are moving along the California coastline. As of today, more than 30 of the birds that have come to our center are suffering from injuries due to fishing hooks and monofilament line entanglement.

Overview of the Current Crisis Situation

For those of you that don’t remember, in 2002 IBRRC received 200 injured pelicans from Santa Cruz within a month because large numbers of brown pelicans were feeding on anchovies under the Santa Cruz piers. Fisherman fishing from the piers can catch up to five small fish at a time by basically creating a long line system where each line has up to five leads with hooks on the ends of them. The lines are dropped from very high piers and are often pulled up with up to 5 wiggling fish on them. Pelicans see this as a free meal and grab them, becoming entangled. The fishermen get annoyed, cut the lines and then the pelicans are found on the wharf and local beaches with injuries and entanglements. This is happening right now!

In 2002 IBRRC worked with local government and California Fish & Game to temporarily close the Santa Cruz wharf to fishing until the bait fish moved out of the area. This tactic was successful and ended the fishing tackle entanglements. We are again asking the regulatory agencies to temporarily close these areas to fishing. This year the problem is much worse as three different piers are being used for fishing and literally thousands of brown pelicans are feeding on the fish. Two of the piers are now closed but one remains open to fishing. One fisherman complained to reporters that he is catching a pelican every 20 minutes and cutting the line.

Media report: ABC-TV: Pelicans getting fatally snared in Capitola

IBRRC as the Hub for west coast pelican rehabilitation

IBRRC has the largest facilities and most advanced program for pelican and sea bird rehabilitation along the west coast of the US. Each of our rehabilitation centers is equipped with a one hundred foot long pelican flight aviary. These aviaries are specifically built for pelicans and provide them flight rehabilitation. Each aviary can hold up to 75 birds at a time and both are in full use right now.

Your support is desperately needed

As I write this appeal there are 70 brown pelicans at our Northern California center, in Fairfield, receiving treatment for fishing tackle injuries and other problems and an equal amount at our Southern California facility in San Pedro. Each pelican eats up to 5 pounds of fish a day. The low estimate of a single pelican’s cost to rehabilitate is $20.00 per day. In truth, the cost is much more for those that require antibiotics and further care. I am asking for your financial support again to help us in this crisis situation.

We have set up many ways for our supporters to contribute. Donations in any amount you wish are always welcome. You may Adopt a Pelican or become a Pelican Partner. Becoming a Pelican Partner provides you with the opportunity to receive a private tour of one of our facilities and join our staff or volunteers at the release of the pelican that you have adopted and helped. I urge you to help us rehabilitate these pelicans. Share this information with friends and encourage their involvement. Help us: Adopt-a-Pelican or Donate

Thank you from all the staff and volunteers at IBRRC for your help.

Jay Holcomb

Executive Director
International Bird Rescue Research Center, IBRRC

August 6, 2008

Media picks up unfolding Pelican story

Check out these latest media reports:

ABC-TV: Pelicans getting fatally snared in Capitola

Daily Democrat: Pelicans nursed back to health

August 5, 2008

More pelicans tangled in fishing line & hooks

IBRRC admitted nine pelicans from Santa Cruz yesterday. Each one was suffering injuries from entanglement in fishing line and hooks. While it is not surprising for the marine and aquatic bird specialists to receive large numbers of pelicans in a day, especially this time of year, the oddity is that these casualties of fishing had come from one area, Santa Cruz.

They have seen this before. Back in 2002, International Bird Rescue received 200 young pelicans from Santa Cruz within a one-month period. They found that fishermen off Santa Cruz Pier, at the wharf, were targeting schooling anchovies using what’s called a longline – one strand of fishing line with multiple hooks. As the fishermen reel in their wriggling fish, pelicans, mostly young, inexperienced birds, grab the prey and become snared in the line. The lines often break or they are cut. The pelicans fly off trailing line and often with imbedded hooks. In 2002 state agencies closed the wharf temporarily until the bait-fish moved on. Read news article

Yesterday, rescuers confirmed sightings of this type of fishing going on off the cement ship at Seacliff Beach in Capitola and off of the Santa Cruz Pier. Dead pelicans were washing up snared in line, and a number of still flighted birds were spotted entangled and in need of help. Update: California Fish & Games has reportedly closed Seacliff Pier (the cement ship area) to fishing.

Today, rescuers will return to the area to try and catch the injured animals. Help is expected from the California Department of Fish & Game and US Fish & Wildlife Services in dealing with this matter. Citizens are being asked to report sightings to local rescuers – they can find contact information through a toll-free wildlife hotline for California 866-WILD-911 or by calling rescue coordinator Rebecca Dmytryk, 831-869-6241. PLEASE DO NOT CALL IBRRC! Thanks.

Also see:

Fishing around pelicans: Some suggestions

Adopt-a-Pelican

August 3, 2008

Helping us get the word out: LA Times story

The Los Angeles Times has a really terrific story this weekend about our efforts with young starving pelicans at our Southern California center. Julie King, IBRRC’s San Pedro center manager is quoted near perfectly:

…”Will they survive after we let them go? Hard to say,” King said. “But I do know this; we are giving these birds a second chance to get back in the wild and figure it all out…”

Worth reading: Bird rehab gives young pelicans a second chance

August 2, 2008

Starving young pelican numbers grow: Help!

The number of young pelicans sick and starving arriving at IBRRC’s two bird centers continues to grow.

Jay Holcomb, IBRRC’s executive director, has issued a plea to the public for help in treating these birds. The fish bill alone is at least $750 a day between the two centers. You can help by adopting a pelican or becoming a pelican partner to assist us in our long-term support for these endangered animals. Read his urgent appeal

More than 150 pelicans have been delivered to the Cordelia/Fairfield and San Pedro Centers in the past six weeks. Dedicated staff and the wonderful volunteers at both centers continue to assist these wonderful birds.

Most of the birds are weak due to lack of food and some have more serious injuries, according to Holcomb. He says it’s not uncommon for the centers to treat ailing pelicans during the summer months. This year the numbers are definitely up and partly this can be attributed a successful nesting season for pelicans in the Channel Islands.

Some good news

The good news today is that some of the earlier arrivals have been stabilized with fish and TLC and are being released. Six California Brown Pelicans were turned back to the wild Saturday afternoon at Fort Baker’s Horseshoe Cove in Sausalito.

Media reports:

Influx of rescued pelicans in California: ABC News

Pelicans nursed back to health: Vacaville Reporter

Pelicans released back to the wild: The Daily Breeze photos

July 25, 2008

Sick and hungry pelicans flooding bird centers

It’s another busy summer season for the staff and volunteers at Bird Rescue as sick and starving young pelicans arrive for treatment at both California centers. Since June nearly 100 pelicans have been transferred to the bird rescue centers – one in San Pedro and the other in Fairfield, CA – to be given the best possible care.

Starting in May 2008 an overwhelming number of pelicans competed with fishermen for large quantities of schooling fish in Northern California – especially in the Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay areas. We began receiving an extraordinary influx of pelicans with entanglement, fish hook and tackle injuries. We were receiving 10-12 birds a day until California Fish and Game stepped in to close the local piers to fishing.

The influx of pelicans was taxing our centers, as the San Pedro facility was also receiving unusually large
numbers of pelicans in their clinic. Our fish bill alone climbed to nearly $40,000. To help defray the cost of caring for the pelicans, Bird Rescue is asking for the public’s help. Donate

You can also become a Pelican Partner. With a donation of $1,000, you will have the chance to tour one of our California wildlife centers and help to release one of our patients back into the wild. This experience offers supporters a special opportunity to see a seabird getting its final medical exam and numbered leg band, and the once-in-a-lifetime honor of opening the cage at the release site as your partner pelican takes its first steps into the open and soars away.


Luckily this year Bird Rescue completed construction of a new 100-foot pelican aviary at its Fairfield, CA bird center. The aviary allows pelicans to recuperate in large comfortable setting. It has two large pools and perches for the birds to fly back and forth to stretch their wings. The aviary was completed with funds from the Green Foundation and the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN). The San Pedro center has had a pelican aviary since it opened in 2001.

How to help: Adopt-a-Pelican

More information on Pelicans in Peril

Found a bird? How to handle a sick or injured pelican or other aquatic birds.

February 20, 2008

Pelicans to come off endangered species list

After 40 years of being on the precipice of extinction the Brown Pelican is poised to be removed from the national endangered species list, according to recent announcement by the U.S. Interior Department. See: Los Angeles Times report

The pelicans were put on the endangered species list after the use of the pesticide DDT caused catastrophic reproductive failure in the late 1960s. The pesticide affected pelican eggs and the reproductive health on these majestic birds. When DDT was finally banned in 1972, the pelican population slowly made a rebound. Now at least 70,000 breeding pairs of pelicans now live in California and Baja California.

IBRRC treats hundreds of sick and injured pelicans each year at its two bird centers in California. Most recently, pelicans have been affected by domoic acid or algae bloom outbreaks along the California coast. And fishing line injuries continue to rise as man encroaches on more of this birds’ habitat.

The legacy of DDT is still with us. Scientific studies say that the ocean floor off the Palos Verdes Peninsula in Southern California remains highly contaminated by the pesticide. The Montrose Chemical Company, a Torrance manufacturer of DDT, dumped pesticide laden wastewater into storm drains from 1947 to 1983. An estimated 1,700 tons of DDT made its way to the Pacific Ocean. DDT settled on the ocean floor and the EPA is still dealing with the issue. Since 1985, fish consumption advisories and health warnings have been posted in this area because of elevated DDT and PCB levels. Bottom-feeding fish are particularly at risk for high contamination levels

Read more reports on the EPA website: Palos Verdes Shelf DDT information.