Brown Pelican in flight by Photo by Bill Steinkamp
Brown Pelican in flight. Photo by Bill Steinkamp

Thanks for participanting in International Bird Rescue’s Second-Annual Banded Pelican Contest! The contest is now closed. We will announce winners later in October.

Our inaugural contest in 2012 yielded great results. Within two months, 119 Blue-Banded Pelican numbers were reported, representing an unprecedented number of pelican band sightings. Reporting the location where the bird is seen and the number from its large blue leg band helps us learn more about these birds, including their migration and survivability in the wild. Since 2009, we have released over 1,100 California Brown Pelicans with blue bands from our wildlife hospitals.

Want to participate in this year’s contest? Whether you’ve spotted the number on a pelican’s metal federal band or an easy-to-read blue band, reporting a banded pelican sighting is easy. Just click here for the online reporting form. As you aid the important scientific research on the travels of the Pelecanus occidentalis, you will be helping in their conservation!


This year, our friends at Eagle Optics have again made a very generous donation for the winners of this contest. A Vortex Nomad 20-60 X 60 Angled Spotting Scope will be awarded to the individual who reports the most sighted band numbers between now and October 14. The runner-up will receive a fabulous pair of 2X Eagle Optics Denali 8 X 42 binoculars. Both winners will also become honorary Pelican Partners, a unique program that includes a private tour of one of our wildlife hospitals and the exclusive opportunity to open the cage door to release a rehabilitated pelican back into the wild.


The reporting period for this 2013 contest begins July 29 and closes on October 14. Here are the rules:

1. This contest is open to all age groups. Youth participants accompanying adults can report the same birds as their parents. (Employees of International Bird Rescue are ineligible for prizes.)

2. Any banded pelican can be reported. Not all pelicans with a metal, federal band will have a plastic blue band. Metal bands have a prefix and suffix, e.g. 0669-00130. For birds that have only a metal band, the entire number will need to be reported.

3. Each reported band must be accurate to be considered. All blue bands begin with a letter and have two numbers following it. For example, A75 or M14. You do not have to report the metal band on Blue-Banded Pelicans, only the blue band.

4. Each bird can only be counted once a day.

5. Dead birds can only be counted once.

6. If you’ve spotted a banded pelican, report your sighting to International Bird Rescue’s online database

Help from International Bird Rescue

We’ll be sending and posting updates and hints on the best places to sight these birds over the coming weeks, sharing your stories and providing information on birds with repeat sightings.

Pelicans with blue bands are currently being seen from Mexico to Washington state, so if you’re anywhere near the West Coast, you could spot them. Several days ago, Pelican K15, the pelican “poster bird” for last year’s contest that was last reported at Pacifica Pier near San Francisco, was recently spotted in Westport, Wash. in Grays Harbor! If you’re spending some time enjoying the coast, don’t forget to keep your eyes open for blue bands!

Photo Contest

Interested in photographing wildlife? Our Blue-Banded Pelican Contest also includes the opportunity to submit your best Blue-Banded Pelican shot with prizes awarded to the top three best photographs as judged by our committee. Last year’s winning photo, taken by Deanna Barth, can be seen on the 2013 poster here in English and Spanish

The first-place photograph winner will receive a beautiful Alex and Ani pelican bangle, an honorary International Bird Rescue membership and an International Bird Rescue T-shirt. The second- and third-place winners will receive honorary memberships as well as T-shirts.

Good luck!

Download Blue-banded Pelican information posters

Pelican Poster: English PDF 8.7 MB

Pelican Poster: Spanish PDF 2.8 MB