Pacific Brown Pelican. Photo: Carl Velie
A joint effort of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Cornell Lab of Ornithology (eBird), state agencies, Conservacion de Islas and the Audubon network, the biannual Brown Pelican survey is helping us define the distribution and abundance of Brown Pelicans and track shifts in population structure. The California Brown Pelican subspecies (Pelecanus occidentalis californicus) was removed from the Endangered Species list in 2009. The most recent population estimate is 70,680 breeding pairs. The majority of the subspecies breeds in the Gulf of California, Mexico; 15-20% of the population breeds at the U.S. Channel Islands. In recent years Brown Pelican productivity at the Channel Islands and across the range has been poor, and key forage species including anchovy and sardine have collapsed raising questions and concerns about recruitment to the breeding population and ultimately the health of the subspecies.
There are two ways to participate in this survey:
Washington: Jen Syrowitz
Oregon: Joe Liebezeit
California: Anna Weinstein
Mexico: Yuliana Bedolla
The goal is to initiate a biannual citizen science-based survey to help understand the abundance and distribution of Brown Pelicans in California, Oregon, and Washington. This survey will complement a 47-year time series of productivity monitoring data at the U.S. Channel Islands and a shorter, but also robust, data set in Mexico.
On March 14, 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt established the first wildlife refuge on Pelican Island in Florida. Created to protect bird species that had been hunted to the brink of extinction, this first refuge led to the National Wildlife Refuge System that now includes over 560 refuges across the country. Though the brown pelican has recovered, Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge continues to protect 14 other threatened and endangered species.
Audubon California is joining up with several other agencies, including the USFWS to complete a citizen science survey of the California Brown Pelican on May 7. Save the date!
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