KPCC, May 27, 2014: Tens of thousands of California brown pelicans have shown up at the Salon Sea months earlier than usual [...] to roost in spots inland from their normal nesting areas. [...] Dan Cooper, a biologist who monitors birds at Malibu Lagoon, said he first noticed the birds’ strange schedule in mid-April. “I was just sort of flabbergasted at seeing 3,500 brown pelicans resting in Malibu Lagoon,” Cooper said. “I checked my notes, and I have numbers in the hundreds, but I’ve never seen anything like that.” Failed nesting season [...] the majority of brown pelicans have given up the attempt for the year. [...] Scientists say a lack of fish food sources, such as sardines and anchovies, has caused the widespread nesting failure.
- Dan Cooper, biologist hired to monitor birds in Malibu lagoon: “There were hundreds of adult brown pelicans roosting there.”
- KPCC: That was strange because at this time of year most adults should be nesting and raising young on offshore islands, not loafing around on our beaches. [...]
- Cooper: “It’s been shown that when adult brown pelicans start showing up in spring in Southern California they’re birds whose nests have failed.”
At 2:30 in
- KPCC: [Daniel] Anderson is a professor emeritus at UC Davis. He’s been traveling down to Baja for the last 46 years and he just got back from his annual trip last week.
- Daniel Anderson, U. of California, Davis professor emeritus: “I was assessing the status of breeding populations in the major part of the breeding range.”
- KPCC: Major is right, 80-90% of all California brown pelicans breed in Mexico. [...]
- Anderson: “It’s been almost a nearly complete failure to breed, which is quite unusual”
- KPCC: Anderson estimates that Baja pelicans have reared about 1% of the young they normally would.
- Anderson: “At one island that we study, Isla Salvatierra, which would normally have 8,000-10,000 young, only had like 20 young.”
At 3:45 in
- KPCC: Having given up on nesting this year [the pelicans are at the Salton Sea east of Palm Springs, 100 miles inland --] months earlier than normal. [Kathy] Molina says you can hear the difference.
- Kathy Molina, biologist: “This should be just a cacophony of Caspian terns, and gull-billed terns and skimmers. They should all be coming in with food, feeding their chicks, vocalizing to their mates or their chicks. This is really quiet.”
Published: May 28th, 2014 at 5:00 am ET