Brown pelicans’ breeding population plunges

Brown pelicans’ breeding population plunges

A fresh survey has revealed that the population of brown pelicans, which were brought back from the brink of extinction last century, is shrinking again.

The University of California, Davis, recently published an annual survey that showed a steep plunge in the population of breeding pairs of brown pelicans.

The survey conducted in Mexico's Gulf of California revealed that areas that usually host hundreds and thousands of nesting pairs of pelicans held far fewer, while a few places were totally empty this year.

At Angel de la Guarda, the researchers found just 120 nesting pairs and zero offspring this year. The figure represents less than 2 per cent of the previous four years' average figure.

At Isla San Luis, the researchers found 465 nesting pairs and 16 young ones, 9 per cent of the normal. In 2006, there were 5,400 nesting pairs and 5,940 young ones. At Isla Piojo, they found 70 nesting pairs and zero young ones, as compared to 600 nesting pairs and 660 young ones in 2006.

Anderson, who has been monitoring the birds for the last 46 years, said, "That's what we call a failure, a bust. The bottom dropped out."

The UC Davis said in a statement that many pelicans arrived late to the breeding grounds this year and many of those pairs that nested abandoned their nests due to scarcity of food.

California brown pelicans were delisted from the country's Endangered Species list in 2009. Mexico's Gulf of California accounts for 90 per cent of pelicans' breeding nests, while the Channel Islands in Southern California accounts for the remaining 10 per cent.

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