Pelicans Grounded because of Depleted Food Source - NBC Bay Area

Pelicans Grounded because of Depleted Food Source

30 birds are being treated for emaciation and hypothermia.



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    LA JOLLA, CA - JANUARY 27: An endangered California Brown Pelican uses a wave for extra lift as it flies to its evening roost on January 27, 2003 in La Jolla, California. Mutilations and killings of the endangered pelicans are on the rise. Nearly two dozen brown pelicans have been found shot or with their wings crushed in recent weeks along the southern California coast. Last year, several were found in Oregon with their upper beaks cut off and California Fish and Game officials have been tracking down party boat captains who have been wounding pelicans and seals that compete with them for fish. Authorities are stepping up patrols and asking for the public's help. California brown pelicans have been on the federal endangered species list since the 1970's, when the effects of DDT nearly wipe out the birds. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

    In the past two weeks, more than 30 young pelicans have become grounded along the San Mateo coast, suffering from emaciation and hypothermia, which likely was caused by a depleted food source.

    The Peninsula Humane Society and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals used space heaters, cage dryers and heat lamps to keep the Brown Pelican fledglings warm. It also gave the birds IV fluids, temperature checks and tube feeding several times a day, according to Humane Society spokesperson Scott Delucchi.

    "Normally, we might see that many pelicans over the course of the year, one at a time, we have never seen so many in so short a time period," Delucchi said.

    The Humane Society also takes in cats, dogs, reptiles and other domesticated animals to adopt out to families. In addition, it also takes in orphaned or injured wildlife which generally consists of song birds, owls, hawks and squirrels at this time of year, Delucchi said.

    The reason for the fledglings' condition is unknown, Delucchi said.

    "No one knows for sure," he said. "We think though that it has something to do with a depleted food source in the area."

    The staff hopes to make the birds healthy enough to be released back into the wild or transferred to the International Bird Rescue organization, from the Humane Society's facility in Burlingame.

    The fledgling pelicans are less skilled at finding fish than adult pelicans are and end up taking the brunt of this circumstance, Humane Society supervisor Patrick Hogan said.  

    Brown Pelicans were an endangered species, but their population has recovered due to protection received from the endangered species list, according to the Humane Society.

    If local residents see a young pelican in distress or if they would like to volunteer to help the pelicans, they should call 650-340-7022, Delucchi said.

    "Signs of stress include approachability, they don’t fly away when humans approach them,lying down, especially with their head tucked in their back, overly aggressive, especially with people fishing, and stumbling, falling over and not being able to hold their head upright," Delucchi said.