are named George?
GEORGE: In our family, all pelicans are called George. I’m not sure how this started (I suspect my wife’s influence), but the name seems to fit many of these friendly, fish-hungry denizens of the docks. Though not the prettiest shorebirds we spot from the boat, they are perhaps my favorite. We’re seeing more and more pelicans these days as the population rebounds from its decades-ear- lier low point caused by DDT poisoning and habi- tat loss. Nearly 40 years after DDT was banned in 1972, the brown pelican was removed from the
Endangered Species list in 2009.
It breeds in scattered locations along the
Atlantic coast from Maryland southward around
Florida; westward to southern Texas and Mexico;
and on the Pacific Coast from Southern California
down to South America. American white pelicans
breed inland in a dozen states, from North Dakota
and Montana, down to Colorado according to
Patuxent Wildlife Refuge research.
Though the species suffered a setback caused
by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the good
news is, the number of mating pairs at nesting
grounds in parts of Louisiana that were hit hard by
oil washing ashore seem to have returned to pre-spill levels. And while pelicans still face pressure
from habitat loss, decreasing forage fish populations, and entanglement dangers posed by fishing
line and other marine debris, chances are good
we’ll be seeing more of George around in
the future. — MICHAEL VATALARO