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Banding the Bay’s Pelicans


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Early on a beautiful July morning professionals from local wildlife agencies and volunteers met at a Crisfield, Maryland boat ramp. Our destination? Smith Island, a small series of islands on the Maryland-Virginia border, home to a unique community and Maryland’s official state dessert, the Smith Island cake. Although cake is a worthy reason for a visit (so are the crab cakes), our focus would be the island’s southwest end where a large colony of brown pelicans was nesting. Image Credit: USDA Wildlife Services Given today’s numbers, it’s hard to believe brown pelicans weren’t documented breeding in the Chesapeake Bay until 1987. Dave Brinker, Biologist with Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources, saw these early breeders as an opportunity to learn about the pelican’s breeding range expansion and thus banded all chicks from the original five pairs established along coastal Worchester County, Maryland. And expand they did. Pelicans began breeding throughout the Chesapeake Bay islands. The number increased to 114 pairs in 1997 and then exploded in 1999 with an estimated 1,000 breeding pairs! Image Credit: USDA Wildlife Services Since the Chesapeake Bay includes Maryland and Virginia, inter-state communication was critical to understand the behavior and biology of the Bay pelican population. [...]

 

Read more: http://wildlife.org/banding-the-bays-pelicans/

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