Seas & Shores


How to participate.
Brown Pelican Photo: Michael Qualls/Audubon Photography Awards

Conduct your spring survey on May 6, 2017, for at least one hour within the time frame of 4 hours before the end of civil twilight in your county. It is essential to conduct the survey only during this time frame in order to ensure accurate results. 

How to estimate number of pelicans for entry into eBird

1) Upon arriving at your survey location, immediately count/estimate all birds noting roosting birds, birds on water, or birds in flight.

2) Conduct a similar count a minimum of every 15 min or at more frequent intervals. 

3) Of all interval counts/estimates, take the one that provided the highest count for entering into eBird.  


Count 1 - 3:35 p.m. - 3:40 p.m.

Roosting = 25

Loafing on water = 20

Fly by = 37

Total = 82

Count 2 - 3:50 p.m.  - 4:05 p.m.

Roosting = 400

Loafing on water = 5

Fly by = 30

Total = 435

Count 3 - 4:20 - 4:30

Roosting = 25

Loafing on water = 40

Fly by = 450

Total 515

Max high count = Count 3

Survey Protocol

1. Go to Audubon California brown pelican survey website.

2.  On the home page, scroll down to the map with the green dots (representing eBird roost Hotspots).  Click on the green dot representing your hotspot survey location. 

3.  A pop up window is displayed.  On the right, click on the circle with a > inside.  This will direct you to another pop up window. 

4.  Click on the “More Info” link located at the bottom of this screen. 

5. You have now been directed to eBird’s DATE AND EFFORT screen. Provide the following details:

  • Observation Date:  Input date of survey
  • Observation type:  Click “other” and select “California Brown Pelican Survey” from the pull down.
  • Start time: enter start time
  • Duration: enter time
  • Distance:  enter 0 if a stationary count (moving less than 30 meters) or actual distance travelled.
  • Party size:  indicate how many people in your survey party
  • Comments:  Any additional information
  • Click the “green continue button” on the bottom right side.

6) You are now on the “WHAT DID YOU SEE OR HEAR” eBird screen.

7) Scroll down to Brown Pelican or use the "jump to species" filter located on the upper right and enter brown pelican or BRPE.

      a) enter total estimate of BRPE’s observed (in-flight, on water, and roosting).

      b) Click “add details” next to BRPE. Enter roosting birds (birds observed on land or structures) and other (birds observed in flight or on water) in the details section.   Add anything relevant that would help with future surveys (i.e. insight into best observation points for roosts; human disturbance; weather and visibility). For example in count 2 above, "400 roosting. 35 flying or loafing."

      c) Also "add details" record highest count of roosting birds you observe among your counts as "XXX birds roosting." For example count 2 above had the highest number of roosting birds and should be recorded as 400 birds roosting.

     d) click age/sex and enter the age class (immature = brown-headed birds; adults = white-headed birds (any bird showing any extent of white on the head).  Unknown for sex.

     e) please add Weather Conditions in comments on a scale from 0-8 for rain and 0-5 for wind. Use these simple guidelines.

     f)  add photos

8) enter all other birds identified (optional, but recommended)

9) click submit when data entry complete.

10) You are done!

Mobile app users.

1) the option for “other” is not currently available.  Enter data as usual, but return to eBird using a personal computer or some other device other than the mobile app to change the protocol. Change the protocol by following these steps:

      a) On eBird’s home screen (, click My eBird.

      b) Within my eBird, click on “Manage My Checklists”located on the right side of the webpage under “My Checklist.”

      c) Find your entry or entries for the brown pelican survey and click “View or Edit”

      d) Within “Date and Effort,” click on “Edit Date and Effort”

e) Under Observation type:  Click “other” and select “California Brown Pelican Survey” from the pull down.

f) Click save changes.

g) you have now completed data entry.

For Coastal Observation Points, or non-roost locations:



  • “Choose from your locations” - Use this if you already have the eBird hotspot surveyed as one of your own personal locations. Click continue.  Go to step 3.



 "Find it on a map" - Enter State and County. Easiest way is to zoom into the area you surveyed and clicking on the red balloon for the eBird hotspot surveyed; or enter the place name, address, or lat/long coordinates of your coastal observation point. Click continue.


  • Go to “other” and pick “Brown Pelican Survey”
  • Under “observation date” enter your date.
  • Under “observation type” choose “other” and pick “brown pelican survey” from the dropdown menu.
  • Fill out start time, duration, distance, party size, and any comments.


  • Scroll down to Brown Pelican or jump to the species filter located on the upper right and enter brown pelican or BRPE.
  • Enter your estimate of birds seen at coastal observation point for the duration  of the two hour period.
  • Enter all species observed.


  • You’re done!

Please submit observations by May 15.

Downloadable Resources

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