California brown pelicans’ breeding numbers are in drastic decline this year, according to an annual population survey led by a University of California, Davis, professor emeritus. The low nesting rates this spring could indicate that an El Niño event could occur sooner than expected, or that other factors are imperiling the once-endangered species.
- At Angel de la Guarda, there were 120 nesting pairs and zero young in 2014, which is less than 2% of the past 4 years’ average since the pelicans were delisted. For comparison, in 2006 — considered a “good” year for the pelicans — there were 3,550 nesting pairs and 3,905 young on the island.
- At Isla San Luis, there were 465 nesting pairs producing 16 young (9% of normal) in 2014, compared with 5,400 nesting pairs and 5,940 young in 2006.
- At Isla Piojo, there were 70 nesting pairs and zero young in 2014 (19% of normal), compared with 600 nesting pairs and 660 young in 2006.