questions that have arrived at PelicanLife.org ...
oil be removed from pelicans and will the pelicans survive?
Yes, if the birds are caught in time and are brought to someone
trained to do the cleaning. Here's a video posted on the Huffington
"Earlier this week, a Gulf-oil-coated brown pelican was found
in Mobile, Alabama, and taken to the nearby Theodore Oiled Wildlife
Rehabilitation Center, where workers attempted to treat it.
The hour-long cleaning process, using warm water and diluted
Dawn dishwashing liquid, is shown in the following two-minute
video, courtesy of the US Coast Guard:
The pelican next requires at least a week of recuperation before
it's back up on its webbed feet, its feathers are sufficiently
realigned for flight, and it's ready for release--somewhere other
than the Gulf.
Although the bath might look simple here, it's best not to attempt
to clean an oil-spill affected pelican yourself, according to
Jay Holcomb, Executive Director of the California-based International
Bird Rescue Research Center.
For starters, the birds have no idea we're trying to help them.
See also this May 15 YouTube: Washing a Bird
pelicans have individual personalities?
.....Yes! would say anyone who's observed pelican individuals
for any length of time. Think of dogs, for instance: it wasn't
long ago that we humans insisted that only our fellow humans had
the word from Medieval Latin, personalitatem,
and the French, personnalité.) Science
now is revealing that dogs have personalities, something
any dog owner has long since known. Parrot owners have no doubt
but that their companion birds have personalities. And cat aficionados,
their cats. Probably all other creatures with developed brains
have an individuality that in a human would be a "personality."
And other creatures? It's not certain. It may be that we don't
yet know enough. Not only have we not studied the multitude of
species but most of us are unable to see beyond our own shadows.
As for the California Brown Pelicans, they certainly do have distinct
personalities: shy, out-going, brave, timid, aggressive, quick
learners, others a little slower, ...as many variations, probably,
as the colors of their pouches and those pouches can display a
rainbow of colors.
progress on personality in animals. The New York Times Magazine
on Sunday, January 22, 2006, had a fascinating and long article
on the state of current research. Check it out here: <http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/22/magazine/22animal.html>
Certainly, those 12 rescued pelicans in Santa Barbara had distinct
temperaments and personalities, "temperament" being
the biological component, while "personality" the
a World Wide Web site devoted to pelicans?
why not: they're worldwide birds! Seriously, if you really want
to know, please take a look at about
long do pelicans live?
.....It's not known exactly. There is no way of telling the age
of a pelican without banding and only those that come in for care,
on the west coast, for instance, are banded or, sometimes F&W.
Then, of course, they have to be found again. It's been estimated
that the Brown Pelican's life span can be up to 43 years. However,
probably less than 30% of hatchlings survive beyond their
first year and only 2% of the flocks are older than 10.
factors affect the life span: pollution, including oil, El Niño
(ENSO) events affecting fish supplies, fishing line injuries to
wings, and — especially — the skill required to fish.
The Brown Pelican's specialized and unusual dive-fishing, with
the coordination of flight angles and vision tracking the movement
of fish in sometimes murky coastal waters, is very difficult for
young pelicans to learn. When there are relatively few fish, many
first-year juveniles starve. That's certainly being seen
in the summer of 2006 (see this site's NEWS page for spring/summer
maximum recorder life span is 19 years and 8 months. See this
Stanford site for other birds' ages. "Precise information
on the longevity of birds is not easy to come by. It is usually
impossible to follow large groups of individuals from hatching
to death, so in addition to collecting data directly by banding
and recapturing individuals, many indirect methods of estimating
age are used. Generally, it appears that the heaviest post-fledging
mortality occurs among inexperienced young birds, and that for
adults, after they have successfully reared young, the probability
of death each year remains roughly constant. In other words, few
birds die of "old age -- they just run the same gamut of
risks year in and year out until they are killed. " Seabird
ages are particularly hard to determine in wild birds.
many eggs do pelicans have?
.....California Brown Pelicans usually have 3 eggs, although
young birds may have only 2. Maximum number is 4. The eggs are
white but become stained during the incubation period, which lasts
from 29 to 32 days, starting from the day the first egg is laid.
Average size: 3.09 inches by 1.99 inches, weighing 3.89 ounces,
about 2-3% of the parents' body weight. (Click
here or on the section divider graphic for a picture
of the eggs.) Although the male initiates nest-building by choosing
the site, the female builds the nest of twigs and seaweed with
the male's help. In California, the nests are on the ground on
West Anacapa Island, primarily. Nest building takes about a week,
and both parents share incubation. Gulls lurk nearby and the eggs
are not left unattended unless the nesting colony is disturbed.To
prevent the loss of eggs, West Anacapa, so close to the mainland,
is completely offlimits to all unauthorized visitation.
read about DDT and pelican egg-shells....
.....Pelicans incubate their eggs, keeping them warm
and turning them over, by using their vascularized feet. A synthetic
insecticide first discovered as such in 1939 — DDT was first
synthesized in 1877 — DDE was in the Los Angeles area sewage
system starting in the 1940's and washed into the marine environment.
DDE is a metabolite of DDT and is a very stable compound that
accumulated in the tissues of fishes and birds, moving up the
food chain, especially affecting fish-eating birds such as the
pelicans. The effect was disastrous: by the late 60's eggshells
were so thin that in 1970, only 1 chick hatched out of the breeding
ground of approximately 5,000 nesting sites. If a shell is less
than 20% of normal, the egg will not hatch. In Southern California,
shells were 31-51% thinner; even some shell-less eggs were laid.
For an analysis of eggshell thinning, see: Mark Shields, Brown
Pelican, The Birds of North America, No. 609, 2002, Cornell
Lab. of Ornithology, page 15.
Similarly, for our national symbol, bald eagles, also fish eaters,
the numbers dropped to less than 450 nesting pairs in the US,
excluding Alaska. Also seriously affected were ospreys and peregrine
falcons. DDT was banned
in 1972 and since then the pelican population has rebounded, although
continuing to be at risk from environmental
and human factors. There has been controversy about the effects
of DDT; for an analysis see the interview with an expert on pesticide
effects on birds, Professor Daniel W. Anderson of the University
of California at Davis, Effects of DDT on Birds, Environmental
pelicans mate for life?
Although pair bonds are formed, apparently they don't necessarily
last over years. However, no studies have been done to show whether
that is so or not.
are pelicans "endangered" (and what does that mean)?
It is a legal definition for protection under the Endangered
Species Act. In February, 2008, the Fish and Wildlife Service
delisting the California Brown Pelican. The return
of the California Brown Pelican is a great success story of the
E.S.A, from the just one chick hatching in the 1970's to the
flocks seen now. However, breeding still is primarily on one
island, Anacapa Island, and there remain threats to the species
from food species (anchovies and sardines) decline from overfishing
and also, periodically, the effects from el nino weather episodes.
A major threat remains from oil spillage. The channel running
by the Anacapa breeding site is a busy one for tankers and it
also has oil wells. Santa Barbara area residents remember well
the 1969 Union Oil spill.
is the link to the most recent five-year
study of the Brown