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PELICAN NEWS and other happenings at the seabird pond
(Volunteers for seabirds and other birds are always needed; call SBWCN at 805-966-9005)


This year's updates

April 18: The first juvenile pelican arrived at the seabird pond today from Coal Oil Point in Santa Barbara. Sadly, he was so emaciated, that he did not survive. Another juvenile was reported at Jalama Beach, perhaps from a nest on Santa Rosa Island?, but by the time a rescue volunteer got there, 45 miles away, this one, too, did not survive. This is unusually early for juveniles to be arriving on the mainland.

April 15: No newly injured pelicans have come recently to the SBWCN seabird pond, but Karen Hughes, a SBWCN volunteer in Ventura, reports that she continues to receive oiled grebes (and transports them to IBRRC in San Pedro). Karen writes, "Yesterday, however, I rescued a second year female (pelican) who was nothing but bones and feathers. She died about ten minutes after I got her here. If..... the people who had originally spotted her in a parking lot at the harbor the day before had not waited a whole day to let me know, possibly I could have saved her," adding wonderment that people would see a pelican in a parking lot and do nothing/make no calls about it. According to Karen, IBRRC also has been receiving emaciated pelicans.

On January 13, an oil spill of as yet undetermined origin brings grebes and a pelican to the SBWCN seabird pond. From there, the grebes were transported by ferry, the Condor Express, to Ventura, 101, the main road route to Los Angeles, still closed. At Ventura, they were met for transport to the OWCN San Pedro cleanup, where they will be washed and, hopefully, released to cleaner waters. (Click on the pix for better images.)

oiled grebe oiled grebe head of oiled pelican oiled pelican

Our 2 rescued grebes heading to Ventura, watched over by SBWCN volunteer, Dana, onboard that day by chance. The sad pelican will travel south on the 14th. He's lost feathers on his back from the oil, as well as on his head; it will be a long recuperation. (1/14: he didn't survive, probably from having ingested oil.)

condor express
Dana with grebes

January 14: More than 500 birds (scroll to January 14 for the news article) have been found oiled, apparently as a result of the landslide in the La Conchita area. For general information, images of the west coast storm, click here. For a description of the work being done by UC Davis specialists, Veterinarians Dr. Michael Ziccardi and Dr. Greg Massey and IBRRC workers, please click here.

On Saturday, June received 14 oiled grebes, which traveled (by road) to Ventura, to be transferred for transport to San Pedro; more came in on Sunday. Considerably more were picked up and brought south by Ventura volunteers.

January 17, LA Times: approximately 900 oiled sea birds, mostly grebes, have been brought to San Pedro, with more than 644 surviving; no cause of the oiling has yet been determined. The OWCN hot line to report an oiled seabird is (562) 342-7222.

Christmas Eve, 2004: Karen Hughes with her mom, visiting from Michigan, picked up in Summerland a pelican rescued on the Ventura wharf by another volunteer, Helene. The bird has grievous injuries, a fishing hook hole in her pouch, which can be fixed, and what may have been a pellet or other shot wound by her tail. First steps are to weigh and stabilize her. She weighed 2.45 kg, received an injection of baytril and eagerly gobbled down some fish. ...Later that evening, June received a Gadwall duck and a Pelagic Cormorant; what an exhaustingly busy day it was!

June and Karen


juvenile pelican

On December 23, a young pelican was picked up at Stearns Wharf and brought to the pond. There seems to be nothing wrong with her, what a relief!, except hunger. Fed, eating copious quantities of fish, she'll be released soon.

12/26: Today, she is flying free again.

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On December 11, SBWCN volunteers Bill and Sheila Blackmore picked up a young male pelican with a very deep wound on his chest that must have been caused by a fishing hook.

Had the fisherman cut the line, we could have removed the hook carefully. Instead, he must have ripped it out.

At first, the good vets at Santa Barbara's Cat & Bird Clinic thought it would heal by itself.


Daily, June treated the wound but it wasn't healing. And the young bird was unhappy at being isolated from the other pelicans.

Back he went to Cat & Bird on the 17th for stitches. Success!

A sweet-tempered young pelican, he flexes his wings on December 23, preparing for life back in the world.

On January 31, fully healed, he flew in freedom at Goleta Beach.

in isolation
flexing wings

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Double-Blue flies away... and returns!

portrait of Double-Blue

Early on Saturday, August 21, Double-Blue flew away from the seabird pond. It was a clear morning after days of overcast, and the ocean, about 2.5 miles away as a pelican would fly, was visible, an enticing rich blue, from the Goleta foothills. Young pelicans, recovered from whatever caused them to be rescued, often "self-release," not waiting for the net and the carrying case, which can't help but be traumatic. (Other pelicans seeing one of the group captured apparently assume the worst. They get very nervous, rush about, band together, vomit up recently consumed fish.)

Blue had been doing little test flights for the week preceding. Her wings are strong. However, it is questionable whether she will be able to survive, fishing with but one eye. A volunteer is searching the beach areas, especially peopled fishing areas, for her, just in case she has not been able to find fish on her own. On the positive side, over the last months, she has become proficient at catching fish and also getting them in shallow water, so there's hope.

Left behind was her friend, Blue-Orange. Anyone who doubts that wild birds and not just human-connected parrots, for instance, feel "human" emotions such as concern and sorrow, would change his mind after watching the friend left behind. She climbed on the waterfall, flexed her wings (her left has some sort of injury), leaped into water, pathetically, as Double-Blue has been doing, and walked outside the enclosure, looking around, as the two of them used to do.

By late afternoon, she had sided up to "Flipper," a very gentle male. Some months ago his friend died and since then he's been alone. Maybe a new connection has begun.
"Flipper" and Blue-Orange


Blue, seen! Friday afternoon, August 27, East Beach, Santa Barbara:

Blue with juvenile pels


August 31. A call came to the SBWCN HelpLine last evening that there was a pelican at the Goleta Valley Community Hospital, seemingly wanting admittance. It was Blue apparently seeking her way back "home" to the seabird pond in the Goleta foothills. The call was relayed to June Taylor early this morning.

The hospital is about a mile direct line from the Pond and June went and picked up the wandering Blue, thinner, with a torn foot, probably from a fish hook — an injury she did not have on Friday. She's "home" now, hungry and tired.

The other pelicans, including Blue-Orange, paid her no attention and life at the pond has gone on as though she did not have her adventure. A sad little story: it's unlikely that with one eye she was able to catch many if any fish for herself. We hope that the nearly 10 days of freedom were happy ones.

September 6. Blue and Blue-Orange, playing, as though nothing changed, which, in effect, is so. They seem content. Her wings are trimmed to prevent other flights to a freedom she can not survive with but one eye.



The pelican shown with the fishing line-injured foot had to be euthanized. The wound was so deep and the nerve damage so great that the IBRRC in San Pedro where she went for specialized care decided that she would lose her foot and therefore would not be able to hunt, would not survive in the wild.

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Click here for RECENT 2006, pelican news

Click here for November-December, 2005 Pelican News (with links at the bottom of the page to the rest of 2005.)

Click here for December, 2004, pelican news (with links at the bottom of the page to the rest of 2004.)

http://pelicanlife.org © Betsy Robertson Cramer, 2004, all rights reserved.
Contact: info@pelicanlife.org