Brown Pelicans migrating north
I normally post nature observations in our garden.
But nature encompasses not only plants, butterflies, bees and birds, but all living beings. In this case, brown pelicans migrating north, flying along the seashore.
We drove to the Point Reyes National Seashore for a day trip.
This is one of my most favorite places ever.
And although it just takes a little over an hour for us to drive there, it feels like a completely different world.
There we always like to walk along a beach and photograph the ocean and sea birds.
It must have been serendipity, because somehow we got a little side-tracked, and missed the road to another beach we meant to visit.
Instead we ended up at this one.
Within ten minutes of arriving at this beach after walking a short trail, we witnessed the migration of at least forty brown pelicans, flying in several groups.
They were heading north.
I have never seen so many brown pelicans flying together.
And why was this such a wondrous sight?
In the 1960's and 1970's these birds faced extinction.
The pesticide DDT was flowing from mainland sewers into the ocean.
Pelicans ate contaminated fish. This affected the pelicans' reproductive system - the DDT altered their calcium metabolism, which resulted in thin egg shells.
When the adults sat on their nests to keep their eggs warm, the thin egg shells broke.
In 1970 the federal government listed the California Brown Pelican as an endangered species.
In 1972 the use of DDT was banned.
In 2009 the California Brown Pelican was removed from the federal list of endangered species, due to recovery.
These pelicans nest from March through October in the California Channel Islands and on an island off the coast of Mexico. After their nesting season they fly north to British Columbia, and return south before winter sets in.
Today the pelicans' nesting habits and survival are under threat again due to many factors, including the diminishing of their main food sources, the California sardine and anchovies.