Former Brown Pelican Patient Sighted Nearly Six Years After Release

Brown Pelican X39 was spotted on November 21, 2022 flying past Johnson Pier at Pillar Point Harbor at Half Moon Bay, CA out towards the ocean. Photo coutesy Cedrik von Briel

There’s no greater feeling as a wildlife professional than to see one of your former patients back in the is wild thriving – especially nearly 6 years later.

A case in point is a Brown Pelican with blue band “X39” that was recently spotted and photographed by citizen citizen Cedrik von Briel at Pillar Point Harbor in San Mateo County, California. She was reported through our online reporting portal on November 21, 2022.

The female pelican originally came into care on May 28, 2017 as hatch-year bird. Over the course of a month in treatment at Bird Rescue’s San Francisco Bay-Delta wildlife center, she recovered from emaciation. One of our dedicated volunteers, Tracy Barger, along with her mom Coleen Sayer, released this pelican with four others near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco Bay.

Ever since the Brown Pelican went off the endangered species list in 2009, all Brown Pelican patients released by Bird Rescue are banded with special, highly readable blue bands to aid in sighting and reporting. To date more than 1,650 former patients have been outfitted with these bands.

In 2022 alone, at least 250 Brown Pelicans, were released all sporting blue bands to help us gather data on returning patients, live sightings, breeding success, travel patterns, and life span. Report a blue-banded pelican

Thanks to this report and others, we can share the success of our efforts that give birds a second chance back in the wild.

Brown Pelican with blue band X39 was released by volunteer Tracy Barger, along with her mom Coleen Sayer, in 2017 at Fort Baker in Marin County.