Blue-Banded Pelican Contest: Clues and Tidbits

Last week, International Bird Rescue launched our official Blue-Banded Pelican Sighting Contest, sponsored by Eagle Optics, which has generously donated two pairs of beautiful binoculars for our winning adult and youth contestants (click here for official rules).

If you’ve been out scouting for these birds, you may have noticed that many Blue-Banded Pelicans are young and still trying to figure out how to survive on the coast, where food supplies can be limited and the odds of encountering human-related injuries are high.

Photo © Bernardo Alps/PHOTOCETUS. All rights reserved.

This is M16, a Brown Pelican received at our Northern California center on August 30, 2011 suffering from fishing tackle injuries. Then a hatch-year (HY) bird, M16 was successfully treated and released on October 14, 2011 at Ft. Baker in Sausalito under the Golden Gate Bridge. It was not seen again until October 7, 2012 when it was spotted in Monterey.

Here you can see M16 searching for fish scraps on the Monterey Wharf near a commercial fish-processing area. We don’t always like to see our rehab birds begging and looking for scraps at such facilities, but young pelicans are by nature clever and opportunistic in finding fish. This can be to their detriment when they collide with fishermen and fish-processing activities, whether public or commercial.

The good news is that M16 was later spotted just a few days ago on October 30 at the beautiful Port San Luis Harbor in San Luis Obispo. By all accounts, the bird is doing well and can fend for itself!

With the help of state and federal wildlife agency folks, we will be targeting sites like the Monterey Wharf, working to locate where the birds are being fed and where they are being oiled by fish waste, or even subjected to abuse. Our simple goal is to limit the injuries faced by pelicans. And you’re helping out this cause tremendously by reporting Blue-Banded Pelicans like M16 that you may see.

So here’s your sighting clue for our Eagle Optics binoculars contest: Locate local public or commercial fish-processing or cleaning stations, and you’re sure to find a pelican or two in the area. We receive many of our reports from fish-processing stations, from California to Washington state.

Interested in supporting our Blue-Banded Project with a donation? Please click here for more information.

Two Blue-Banded Pelicans recently released by International Bird Rescue. Photo by Cheryl Reynolds.