Starved Pelicans Are Now Crowding San Mateo's Shelter

Categories: Animals
pelican 2.JPG
Courtesy of Peninsula Humane Society
Blame it on Global Warming
Those sad and starved Brown Pelicans that have packed into nearby shelters this past month have wormed their way into the Peninsula Humane Society's Wild Life Center where they are getting 'round the clock care.

The Peninsula Humane Society has taken in some 30 emaciated and really cold Pelicans, supplying them with space heaters, cage dryers, and heat lamps to warm their chilly beaks. They've also been administering IV fluids, tube feedings, and temperature checks as needed.

Many of those birds have needed hourly care as they rest up in the ICU unit of the SPCA; staff hopes to get nurse those birds back to decent health so they can transfer them to the "Pelican Room" (that kind sounds like a hotel suite).


pelican 3.jpg
Courtesy of Peninsula Humane Society
Ultimately, the staff plans to release some of the birds back into the wild within the next week. Sadly, many are definitely not going to survive, despite the care they are getting, according to the Peninsula Humane Society.

Experts explain that this recent and alarming spike in Pelican starvation along the West Coast is due to a depletion in various fish, which is the Pelican's primary source of food. The birds dive into water to catch fish, but fledgling pelicans, like the ones in San Mateo, are less skilled at finding food, thus they are the ones suffering the most.

In a typical year, the shelter will care for about 20 to 25 malnourished Pelicans, but they've never seen this amount of unhealthy birds in such a short time frame.

Here are some clear signs a Pelican is in distress:

  • Overly aggressive with people who are fishing


  • Stumbling, falling over, or not being able to hold their head upright


  • Lying down


  • They might not fly away if you approach them


If you come across a Pelican (they have the really long beaks) suffering, contact the San Mateo shelter at (650) 340-7022.

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