California Brown Pelicans Are Found Dead And Dying

Brown Pelicans

In the previous week, there has been an increase in the number of dying and sick brown pelicans that have been found along the coast of Southern California. According to International Bird Rescue, a San Pedro Rehabilitation Center has seen more than 25 pelicans.

The birds are fully grown and show signs of anemia, emaciation and hypothermia. It is quite unusual to see so many pelicans coming in for treatment, considering the fact that fledged baby pelicans are the ones that are usually brought in for treatment.

International Bird Rescue said that pelicans have been landing on airport runways, city streets and people's backyards. Pelicans entered the mainstream news when, on April 28th, two pelicans landed in a graduation ceremony for Pepperdine University. The ceremony was in Malibu.

Pelicans are usually spotted flying in formations above the ocean. Sometimes, they glide very close to the water. Their method of attaining food includes circling high above the water to see what they can prey on. Once they figure out what they want to eat, they dive into the water and catch their prey with their long beaks.

International Bird Rescue is yet to send out pelican bodies for necropsies. They are too preoccupied with tending to the needs of pelicans that are still alive.

What the pelicans are dying of is a mystery. They are not showing signs of poisoning from domoic acid. In the past, pelicans died as a result of exposure to domoic acid—a toxin produced by algae. Signs of domoic acid poisoning include not being able to hold their heads up, as well as spasms.

The California brown pelican is indigenous to the Pacific Coast, dwelling along the coastal region that extends from Nayarit, Mexico, to British Columbia. They are 4 feet long and have a 6.5 foot wingspan. They are found in places such as estuaries, breakwaters, harbors, beaches, the open sea and offshore islands that are rocky, vegetated and/or sandy. They usually nest in areas that are inaccessible, untouched by humans and void of mammalian predators. California brown pelicans eat a lot of northern anchovies—fish that make up 90% of their diet during breeding season. Pacific sardines also make up a significant portion of the California brown pelican's diet.

The breeding range of California brown pelicans extends from Central Mexico to the Channel Islands. Their breeding season lasts from about January to October, though it depends on how good the food supplies are.