In last week’s clue for our current Blue-Banded Pelican Sighting Contest, we talked about pelicans that hang out at fish-processing stations, fishing docks and other local spots. Other good places to see banded pelicans are breakwaters. These are actually roosting areas — safe from predators and people, a place where pelicans and other birds can sleep and just hang out.
Getting to them is not always easy, of course — sometimes it takes a boat to do so. Last February, we had a friend take us out to the long breakwaters that protect the Los Angeles Harbor. There, we saw about 2,000 pelicans in a single morning, and counted nine blue-banded birds and about eight others that were federally banded (metal bands), but we could not read those bands due to the rocking of the boat. The metal-banded birds were likely International Bird Rescue’s rehabbed birds.
One of the frustrations in spotting Blue-Banded Pelicans is that sometimes the birds are lying down and you cannot see their legs. It’s illegal to disturb them — and we never would — but there may be more banded birds out there than we thought.
If you have the time, patience pays off: While we were watching some potential banded pelicans move about, we spotted a Brown Booby — a rare and exciting sighting.
Some breakwaters are close enough to shore where you can actually get a good view of banded birds. For example, the photo below of C84 was taken earlier this week in Monterey, Calif. C84 came to our LA center on 1/21/10, and was an adult bird that was thin and weak, basically starving for unknown reasons. We had a bunch of adults that year that were starving adults, and most had to be washed due to a mysterious substance on their feathers that we never did identify.
C84 was released in San Pedro on 1/29/10 and was just sighted on 11/12/12.
Good luck! Over 30 banded pelicans have been encountered and reported in the last two weeks!