Sighting Pelicans in the Pacific…

Calling all Pacific birdwatchers! Ready for a challenge and some friendly competition that could win you a pair of Eagle Optics 8X42 Ranger ED Binoculars (retail value $500) and help out our majestic brown pelicans? The International Bird Rescue (IBR) is hosting its First Annual Banded Pelican Sighting Contest running from November 3 to January 2.

Banded PelicanThe game is simple: use an online form to report your sighting of a banded bird. The adult with the most sightings will win the aforementioned binoculars, and the child with the most sightings will win a pair of Eagle Optics 8X42 Shrike Binoculars (retail value $100). Families are encouraged to play the contest together.

IBR has two centers in California for aquatic and oiled bird rehabilitation, although they respond to oil spills across the globe. With their motto “every bird matters,” they assist sick and injured birds in need whether they are endangered or populous. While today’s brown pelican populations flourish across North and Central America, the species was in real danger of extinction as recently as forty years ago. These birds–along with other national treasures like the bald eagle, peregrine falcon, and California condor–were all but decimated by the pesticide DDT, which caused the birds to lay eggs with thin shells that broke before hatching. Following the DDT ban in 1972, brown pelicans began their gradual recovery.

Today there are more than 650,000 of these iconic birds: a true recovery triumph! The brown pelican was removed from the Atlantic and southeastern endangered lists in the 1980s, and then from all endangered lists in November, 2009. Happy anniversary, Pelecanus occidentalis!

In many ways the brown pelican’s story has paralleled the environmentalist movement after Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring. And IBR has been rehabilitating brown pelicans since the middle of the crisis in 1971. They have released more than 5,000 banded brown pelicans in the last 20 years, with 1,000 of them sporting the new, more visible blue band. Since pelicans migrate, you can enter the contest all along the Pacific from Mexico to Washington, and even in some Gulf states.

Calling North American Birders…

Celebrate science and conservation! Counting birds helps to monitor populations, inform research, and guide conservation. Landlocked or otherwise geographically separated from the blue-banded pelicans? Join the 113th Annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count between December 14 and January 5, and be part of “the longest running Citizen Science survey in the world.”

Don’t forget your binoculars!

Get Involved…

Here are 3 free organized bird counts:
Banded Pelican Sighting Contest
The Christmas Bird Count
The Great Backyard Bird Count

photos via: International Bird Rescue blog