Pelicans Starving In Pacific Northwest Since 2011, Killing Baby Birds For Food – ‘Sardine Crash’ Persists In Pacific Since Decline In 2011

Experts: “Really an off year” — Pelicans starving in Pacific Northwest since 2011, killing baby birds for food — Breeding success “really poor” since 2011 — “I believe pelicans are responding to large scale changes” — “Sardine crash” persists in Pacific since decline in 2011 (ENENews, Dec 22, 2013):

Laird Henckel, environmental scientist for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Dec. 19, 2013 (emphasis added): [P]elicans that would have normally migrated as far north as British Columbia decided to stick around the Central Coast, where an anchovy smorgasbord is taking place. […] “In 2011 and 2012, the pelicans got up there and ran out of food […] They were starving and scavenging for food” […] During this three year period, brown pelicans were reported to have been killing murre chicks for food […]

Wildlife biologist Deborah Jaques of Pacific Eco Logic in Astoria, Oregon, Dec. 19, 2013 (emphasis added): “Not as many birds flew north this year” […] she does not know what is directly causing the decline […] The large quantity of anchovies in Monterey Bay may have helped the pelicans avoid another year of starvation that has been affecting the birds for the past three years […] “Breeding success on the Channel Islands was really poor for the last three years […] For reasons unknown […] many pelicans have been overwintering in the north during the last several years instead of migrating back south around November as is expected. […] Patterns are changing, and I believe the pelicans are responding to these large scale changes.”

Sharnelle Fee, director of the Wildlife Center of the North Coast in Astoria, Oregon, Dec. 19, 2013 (emphasis added): ”This year a survey showed the lowest count since 2003 for them even coming up,” Fee said. “This was really an off year.” […] Only 7,018 birds were recorded during the survey, or half the average for the last decade […]

Josh Lindsay of the National Marine Fisheries Services, Dec. 19, 2013 (emphasis added): A recent decline in Pacific sardine fisheries this year may lead to even more problems in the future […] “We saw a pretty large drop of the biomass from last year to this year […] We see huge fluctuations and substantial variations from year to year, but the stock has been declining over the past three years. […] It’s something we’re trying to understand […] No overfishing has occurred in recent years. It’s likely to be something linked to temperature […]”

Mark Colwell, Professor in Wildlife Department at Humboldt State University, Dec. 19, 2013 (emphasis added): [I]f sardine fisheries continue to decline, it will significantly impact pelicans during their nesting season and in turn […] “If the sardine crash persists, the birds may not have enough energy necessary to breed, or they may have reproductive failure […]”

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