It is well-established that pelicans on the West coast tend to have low survival and reproductive success during El Niño years, and sadly that is being borne out by our data from this study. Many of our tagged birds have stopped transmitting during January and February. While this could be a result of failed satellite tags, it is likely that most lost transmissions represent mortality.
Currently, we have six birds still transmitting: two controls and four rehabilitated spill birds. In the map above, the two most northern birds are the controls and the remainder are rehabilitated birds.
Winter in Baja was rough this year, but now that spring has sprung, there’s hope that the surviving birds are at lower risk. And, the good news regarding the study is that the control and rehabilitated birds are surviving at the same rate, which suggests that oiled birds can go on to survive their experience. There’s unlikely to be much successful pelican breeding this year, but it’s reassuring that the mortality rate of the rehabilitated birds is not higher than that of the controls.
Keep reporting those green-banded (and blue-banded) birds!