The International Bird Rescue Center has been overrun by starving pelicans this winter. Speculation about what’s sickening birds from Southern California to Oregon has ranged from El Nino conditions to climate change to polluted runoff.
The bottom line is that hundreds of Brown Pelicans have ended up sick and malnourished. Many birds stayed too long in the frigid coastal waters off Oregon and Northern California in search of fish prey that just weren’t present in high densities. By migrating late, many pelicans were buffeted by major storms and they didn’t build up the fat reserves to withstand the inclement weather.
Cal Fish and Game on Monday pegged the die off and strandings on starvation. But bird rescue volunteers and scientists have brought up the issue of polluted runoff, which can damage feathers and lead to hypothermia in the recently endangered birds.