Biologists probe what’s behind California brown pelican illness

Hundreds of California brown pelicans have shown up at rehabilitation centers showing signs of starvation. Credit: Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center

Wildlife biologists are exploring what is behind a rise in California brown pelicans appearing along the coast showing signs of starvation. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife reports that residents have brought hundreds of the pelicans to wildlife rehabilitation centers in southern and central California since May 13. “The pelicans have been found emaciated and frequently with secondary injuries or broken wings,” the CDFW reports. “Many of these birds died shortly after arrival at a facility.” Necropsies and testing show that the birds are “succumbing to starvation-related problems,” the CDFW says, but they show no indications of disease or unusual parasites. Once endangered, California brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis californicus) were removed from the endangered species list in 2009.

Read more from the CDFW.