Brown Pelican

Jet Eliot

Brown Pelican, California Brown Pelican, California

This bird is a jubilant success story in conservation.  The species was nearly extinct in the 1970s due to pesticides, primarily DDT.  Today the population is estimated at 650,000 individuals with a Conservation Status of “least concern.”

In the early 1970s a Tampa University research group in Florida discovered that DDT and other pesticides were responsible for thinning the brown pelican eggshell to the point that it could not support the embryo.  The population dropped drastically.  The bird was declared endangered, the research group was successful in banning the use of DDT in Florida, and other states followed.  More info here.

This distinctive bird occupies the western, eastern, and Gulf coasts of North America.  A large bird weighing 6-12 pounds (2-5kg) with an impressive wingspan of 6-8 feet (1-2m), it is still able to coolly cruise just inches above the water’s surface in spite of its…

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