Help to Fill the Bill for Biannual Pelican Count

October 15, 2016 - 2:00 PM
17 sites along the Oregon coast; other sites in California and Washington; or choose your own site

Brown Pelican.  Photo by Michael Sims.
Brown Pelican. Photo by Michael Sims.

Volunteers are needed for a one-day citizen science project, surveying West Coast populations of the Brown Pelican.  The survey takes place on October 15 during the four hours prior to “civil twilight.”  Civil twilight begins at sunset or when the geometric center of the sun is 0°50′ below the horizon, and ends when the geometric center of the sun reaches 6° below the horizon.  It is essentially the point at which, in clear weather, there is no longer enough illumination to clearly distinguish terrestrial objects.

The survey is sponsored by the West Coast network of Audubon societies, including Portland Audubon, our partners in the Oregon Marine Reserves Partnership; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and eBird.  In Oregon, 17 sites have been targeted, and volunteers are needed for those, but you can also choose your own survey site.  Volunteers are asked to observe for at least one hour.

The goal is to initiate a new, long-term, biannual citizen science survey to help understand the abundance and distribution of Brown Pelicans in California, Oregon, and Washington. This survey will complement a 47-year time series of productivity monitoring data at the U.S. Channel Islands and a shorter data set in Mexico. Specific questions to be answered include the size and spatial distribution of the pelicans along the coast, the age structure of the population and how it is changing, and the relationship between productivity among U.S. and Mexican breeding colonies and “recruitment” (birds that mature and join the adult population).

For more about the survey, the volunteer opportunity, and the targeted sites, go to http://ca.audubon.org/brownpelicansurvey

To confirm your interest in participating and determine a site that works for you, contact Joe Liebezeit of Portland Audubon, (971) 222-6121, [email protected].

Brown pelicans.  Photo by Roy Lowe.
Brown pelicans. Photo by Roy Lowe.