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Old Sep 25, 2008, 11:04 AM   #1
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Brown Pelicans are attracted to concentrations of fish at sea, where predators drive bait fish to the surface. Fish trapped in commercial purse seines also attract them. Similarly, they are attracted to baited fishing lines where fishermen concentrate, such as along piers, where they sometimes are caught after being hooked. Some commercial and sport fishermen (by no meanns all of them) are angered by these incidents and tkey out their revenge on the birds. The local wildlife rehab center always has some. In the last week or so 11 pelicans have washed ashore at Bolsa Chica State Beach with both wings broken in such a way that it could only have been done by human hands. A $5000 reward had been posted and is to be at least doubled, because no one has come forward - according to the head of the local Fish & Wildlife enforcement office quoted in the local morning paper, as the Brown Pelican is still on the Endangered Species list the perpetrator(s) is/are subject to a year in jail and a $100,000 fine each per count (maybe a misprint - more like $10,000)!

The juvenile Brown Pelican below has a scar on the right side of the pouch and a notch opposite on the edge of the left side of the lower jaw that may be from a fish hook (pouch, right side) and leader (jaw, left side). It may be a rehabed bird, as tears in the pouch must be repaired or they may tear when the pouch expandes to encompass the fish as the bill enteres the water on the dive.

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Old Sep 25, 2008, 11:05 AM   #2
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Old Sep 25, 2008, 3:28 PM   #3
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That's terrible. A few months back I either saw a posting on some forum orduring the news a story about a White Pelican flying around with an arrow through its wing.

- Hung


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Old Sep 27, 2008, 3:46 PM   #4
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When I hear stuff like that it just makes my blood boil.
I'd love to catch someone doing that.:X
GW
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Old Sep 27, 2008, 4:12 PM   #5
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We have a lot of White pelicans which are similar but larger than the Browns, in my province. We also have a lot of commercial fishing. There have been some isolated incidents of wanton killing of Pelicans at their nesting sites, by who knows, although there have been some suspects.

I believe I read somewhere that the American White Pelican (it's full name) generally eats coarse fish, which are not of great value to commercial fishing.

I was taking some pictures of White pelicans at the locks of a large local river a few weeks ago. There was a large flock of them (about 30) or so, standing on a little island, occasionally flying off to do some fishing or trying to steal the catch of Cormorants.:-)

There were a lot of recreational fishers fishing away and things were peaceful. Most of them were adults, (Pelicans that is) except for one juvenile who almost came on shore to try to grab the catch of one of the anglers. The angler just shooed him away, but the juvenile continually swam right into the fishing lines of the anglers.

Unfortunately he got caught with a small rubber lure that dangled from his side chest area, as the line broke. It certainly wasn't the intention of the angler to hook him. He tried to pull in the Pelican to get the hook off, but the line was light and broke off near the knot, so not much line.

The hook was small and from what I could see, which was pretty close as the Pelican swam to within 5 feet of me, it looked like it would fall off within a short time. No blood, just caught up in some of his feathers.

Unfortunate for all , but I noticed the only Pelican out of the 30-35 that approached the anglers so closely, was this juvenile. The rest never approached the anglers, just kept to themselves.



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Old Sep 27, 2008, 6:08 PM   #6
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What you describe sounds like it is unusual behavior, probably by a naive juvenile. As you probably know, White Pelicans do not feed like the Browns, which dive individually from the air, targeting an individual fish or a group of fish, often at sea, and therefore (at least in this part of their range) the Whites ordinarily should not come into conflict with fishermen; often they feed in shallow lakes where there is little commercial fishing. White Pelicans usually are cooperative feeders, scooping fish from the surface, although I have seen an occasional individual grubbing in the bottom by itself. They form a line abreast and herd fish into the shallows, trapping them against the shoreline, or close into a circle, like a purse seine, trapping fish which they can scoop up, all dipping in unison. It is a remarkable sight to witness.
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Old Sep 27, 2008, 7:24 PM   #7
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That's what I thought too, unusual behaviour for a White, which was reinforced by the fact that the others, which appeared to be adults kept away from the fishermen.

Although at another spot on this river, which is a tremendous fishery, there are about 3-4 'regulars' that hang out about 75 feet away from fisherman, waiting for fish, mostly freshwater Drums to be tossed their way.

Which they gobble up appreciatively. They've been running this racket for years.:-)

Most of the White Pelicans around here, keep to themselves, don't spook readily. This area is a main breeding ground for the species.




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Old Oct 1, 2008, 11:59 AM   #8
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On the same topic of wildlife abuse, check out this post from fredmiranda. I just came across it today. Sad, but I am impressed with that goose! That is one tough bird!

http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/692517/0

- Hung
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Old Jan 6, 2009, 4:50 PM   #9
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Another insult - Brown Pelicans over the last several weeks or so all along the California coast have been found dead, dying, or severely weakened in increasing numbers along the beaches and, what is more unusual, inland where they are not normally encountered. The cause is unknown. After recovering from the DDT debacle in the 60's and 70's, these pelicans have suffered significant mortality from oil spills, domoic acid poisoning, starvation, and assorted human depredations, and now this. Quoted in this morning's paper, a worker at one of the centers said "we're experts at dealing with those problems . . . but right now we're scratching our heads over this event. Not a good [thing]." Bird rescue centers are faced with being overwhelmed with birds whose rehabilitation involves intravenous fluids, medication, warmth, and lots of fish, can cost up to $1,000 for each each. Funding is not adequate for the numbers of birds they have been receiving.

Blood samples are now being analyzed to assess possible causes. Domoic acid poisoning (an algal or phytoplankton toxin) usually affects mostly juveniles found washed up along the beaches in the spring and summer (along with Sea Lions and other creatures), but adults are involved this time as well, and away from the shoreline. Perhaps significantly, bruises have been found inside their pouches. A number of years ago, while I was a graduate student in Florida, a similar thing happened to White Pelicans, which were "dropping from the sky all over the place." A specimen was sent to our Biology Department for examination and I drew the short straw for the autopsy. This bird had a bill that was bloodshot (red blood vessels visible all over the skin covering the beak). I will omit the details, but the parasite load this bird was carrying was way beyond that our parasitologist had ever seen before in any animal - nothing could live with that much drain on its system. So I would not be surprised if parasites were not the cause in the current incident. The fact that this incident follows the recent storms raises the possibility of storm runoff carried pollutants reaching the ocean and causing the problem, yet no other birds or other animals have been reported as implicated so far.
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Old Jan 6, 2009, 10:19 PM   #10
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Reminds me of a situation I saw in early October, not about Pelicans, but Ducks. I was at lake that is situated in the Canadian Prairies, very close to the US border.
I was there with my K10D, long zoom, binoculars , etc. to observe and take pictures of the usually 1000's of ducks, geese, shorebirds, etc.

Usually this lake is teeming with bird life at this time as they are migrating south and this is a stopping off point.

The numbers were way down. I spoke to some American hunters who were also there and they indicated that they had found quite a number of duck carcasses....torn apart, on the shore and the nearby land areas. The hunters were quite upset, as they thought the ducks had been killed by vandals and then ripped apart for the sheer fun of it, by the vandals.

I walked around and sure enough the hunters had been right. Quite a few duck carcasses.

The summer had been hot, the lake was very shallow....least amount of water I've seen. The more I thought about it, the more I think that it wasn't vandals, more likely botulism...because of the low water and extreme summer heat this year. From what I understand ducks seem to be quite vulnerable to this disease.

I'm assuming the reason the birds were torn apart was probably due to predators...there's a fair amount of them around here...Coyotes, Foxes, Lynxes, some Black Bear....etc.

However that's just my speculation, but no matter what the cause, sad to see.


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