Aquatic bird specialists at International Bird Rescue Research Center in Fairfield, Calif., have been receiving reports and admitting pelicans exhibiting odd behavior. Their sister facility in Los Angeles is also seeing an influx in these ailing birds.
“As wildlife rehabilitators, we’re often the first group of people to see a trend developing. We’re the first to notice unusual behavior or illnesses in a population because we’re on the front lines, receiving calls from the public. So, with these pelicans, we know something is going on, we’re just not sure what it is,” said Jay Holcomb, executive director of International Bird Rescue.
What is unusual is that many of the pelicans being admitted to the facility are adult birds that have been found on roads or in fields.
“This type of disorientation in adult pelicans is something we’d see during a domoic acid (shellfish poisoning) outbreak, but we have yet to see them exhibiting the other common symptoms,” added Holcomb.
Another concern for the nonprofit is the expense of caring for these enormous birds. Last year’s figure is staggering. It cost the Fairfield center over $60,000 to feed the large number of pelicans it saw through rehabilitation in 2008 at both facilities.
With the only pelican flight aviaries on the West coast, International Bird Rescue receives pelicans from other centers throughout the region, as far away as San Luis Obispo. Starting the year off with a higher than usual number of pelicans in treatment, and more being admitted daily, the organization has worries as to their ability to treat them all.
“We will not be able to care for all of these birds unless we receive the financial support to do so,” says Holcomb. “We’re relying on contributions from the public to help see these birds through recovery.”
Becoming a Pelican Partner is a unique way for someone to help while also becoming personally involved in a pelican’s care and release. The organization hopes to encourage schools to become involved by offering their new Classroom Partners adoption program. For $300 an entire class of students can participate in their bird’s release back into the wild.
To find out more go to http://www.ibrrc.org.
If you can help, please send checks to IBRRC 4369 Cordelia Rd., Fairfield, CA 94534 … or donate on-line.
To volunteer, please phone the center at 310-514-2573. To report sick pelicans, call you local rescue organization or use the toll-free Wildlife Hotline 866-WILD-911, press option 2 to report dead pelicans.
Thanks for caring! /Gary