Brown Pelicans in Trouble!

July, 2012


Please help provide care for fish-waste contaminated juvenile Brown Pelicans!

Brown pelicans return to Humboldt Bay - Nearly 100 juveniles wind up in care at Bird Ally X/Humboldt Wildlife Care Center.

All along the coast, from Los Angeles to Crescent City and beyond, recently fledged Pelicans are coming into wildlife care centers in large numbers, mostly starved and emaciated.

Over the last few days BAX/HWCC has admitted for treatment over 100 juvenile Brown Pelicans. While some of these birds were starving juveniles from their nests in Southern California and Mexico, not unusual for early Summer, over 95% of these birds are suffering from fish waste contamination.

Fish cleaning stations in Crescent City and Shelter Cove, with discharge pipes emptying into the nearby harbor and bay, are responsible for much of this problem. Young pelicans, only a few months old, used to parental care, easily adapt to this food source. Some call it a free meal, but it costs their lives.

Also, sport fishers along the coast cleaning their catch in marinas and harbors, at boat launches and docks, often toss the remains to waiting Pelicans and other birds, or leave bins filled with fish waste open and accessible to the inexperienced youngsters. Sadly, no matter how well intended sharing catch with these iconic birds may be, fish waste can be lethal.

For more than 30 million years, Pelicans have specialized in anchovy and sardines. Diving from as high as 75 feet above the ocean, these large graceful birds scoop as much as 5 gallons of water and plenty of small fish into their pouches, ejecting the water and swallowing their prey. When a young Pelican who has not yet learned his or her craft eats fish waste, the carcass or parts are often difficult if not impossible to swallow, causing the grease of the dead carved fish to contaminate the bird?s feathers and possibly becoming lodged in the pouch, unable to swallow, unable to cough the carcass up.

If the feathers are contaminated, the bird?s natural waterproofing is compromised and the bird will no longer be able to fish successfully without becoming cold and wet in the chilly North Pacific waters. In any case, slow agonizing starvation is the result.

BAX/HWCC are currently working hard to build the temporary structures needed to provide emergency care for these young, ailing Pelicans.

With nearly 100 already in care, and another 30-60 birds seen from Shelter Cove to Crescent City Harbor, our regions’ only 2 permitted wildlife rehabilitation organizations are working long, hard days to rescue, house, feed, and clean and eventually release them back into their environment.


BRPE admissions since June 22, 2012:

Fort Bragg - 2

Petrolia - 1

unknown - 1

Humboldt bay area - 29

Trinidad - 45

Orick - 3

Crescent City -33

Shelter Cove -16

Total number of Brown Pelicans admitted for care: 130—with more on the way!!!




What you can do to help:


Currently these birds are eating over 450 pounds of fish each day! that?s a lot of clams! about 500 of them!

Other expenses, such as medical supplies, temporary housing, conditioning pools, water, electricity all cost money!


Many hands make light work! call 825-0801 to learn more!

Construction, cleaning, feeding - We Need You!

Material needs:

Volunteers need food too! Healthy Snacks and rehydrating drinks will be greatly appreciated!

Sheets and towels!

Construction materials of almost any kind - call 825-0801 to learn about the current needs.

For a more detailed list of donation requests and more information, please visit:


Contact: Monte Merrick, 707 832 8385,,

P.O. Box 1020, Arcata, CA 95518,

Bird Ally X is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping wild birds and the people who care for them

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