Just about exactly one year ago, I posted about troubling numbers of Brown Pelicans turning up dead or severely injured on Topsail Beach in North Carolina. Speculation that the birds had been beaten to death by malevolent humans was not born out by necropsies performed at SCWDS in Georgia, though a definite cause of death was not determined. Then, in April of this year, dead and injured pelicans began turning up on Topsail again, many with wing fractures so severe that they had to be euthanized.
Now, we’re getting reports of injured birds yet again. Sara Schweitzer, Coastal Waterbird Biologist with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, tells us that she has assisted in the rescue of 10-15 Brown Pelicans, most of which had suffered irreparable wing fractures and were euthanized. Dr. Craig Harms of NCSU will be performing necropsies on the birds that did not survive.
Unlike last year, we have Seanetters on the ground for this round of what now appears to be a regular occurrence on NC beaches. Gil Grant walks North Topsail Beach and has found 4 dead pelicans there since the beginning of November. While we are most pleased to be able to capture these events in our database, the need for observers goes beyond SEANET. The cause of these catastrophic injuries is still a mystery, and anyone who sees any behaviors or happenings that might help explain these events is urged to contact the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission. And let us know too; SEANET is very nosy.