100th Healthy Brown Pelican Released During California #Pelican Crisis

On June 24, 2022 the 100th Brown Pelican was among the 12 seabirds released by International Bird Rescue back to the wild at White Point Park in San Pedro, CA.

Since mid-May Bird Rescue has received 320 injured and starving Brown Pelicans at its two California wildlife centers. Most of these rescued birds have flooded into the non-profit’s Los Angeles Center in San Pedro.

The majority of the birds have been rescued along the coast in Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties, with more than 150 birds rescued from LA County. In Northern California about 40 birds have come into care from primarily Monterey and Santa Cruz counties.

It’s still a mystery what’s causing these birds to not thrive in the wild. Whatever the cause, the birds have been failing to find enough to eat and taking extra risks when foraging for food. Initially most admissions were second year or older birds, more recently, younger birds have been admitted. These large seabirds are clearly arriving emaciated, weak, and with fishing tackle or other traumatic injuries. All the uninjured birds have appeared to be starving.

“I’m so happy to see so many that are now strong and ready for release,” said Dr. Rebecca Duerr, Bird Rescue’s Director of Research & Veterinary Science. “Some of them have nearly doubled their body weight since being rescued, and are now feisty rather than weak and on the verge of dying.”

All birds released by International Bird Rescue have been banded with large blue leg bands to help spot them in the wild. One patient rescued in Marina del Rey on May 25th was released on June 13th with the band Z38. This bird was spotted this week 350 miles up the coast in San Mateo County.

How the Public Can Help When Pelicans are in trouble they will appear weak, listless, and be found in unusual places. They may seem friendly or approachable, or may be sitting down looking sleepy, while in reality they are simply too weak to move away. The public can help by establishing a six-foot perimeter around the bird, while calling local animal control. Along the Los Angeles County coast, many of the beach cities have animal control officers that will capture pelicans and deliver them to Bird Rescue in San Pedro. Lifeguards often also have resources to help. In other areas of California, call your local wildlife center. If in doubt who to contact, call International Bird Rescue’s Bird HelpLine at 310-514-2573.

With hundreds of hungry pelicans still in care, Bird Rescue welcomes the public’s support. Donations can be made online at https://www.birdrescue.org/donate/

Video by Taylor Spiliotis – International Bird Rescue