In all of the havoc wreaked by Sandy, wildlife is often not considered until the human tragedy has been dealt with. Two brown pelicans were found in separate incidents much farther north than their natural habitats would dictate and Sandy is believed to be the culprit behind the northern migration.
Both were found in Rhode Island days after Hurricane Sandy swept the East Coast. The first was found on the side of the road nine days after the storm at Fishermen’s Memorial State Park. According to Jennifer Brooks, clinic director at the Wildlife Rehabilitators Association of Rhode Island, the bird was a juvenile and probably belonged to a nest in North Carolina. The bird had previously been tagged which allowed wildlife workers to identify him as a bird believed to have died.
The second bird showed up about 120 miles south of Block Island when it landed on a fishing boat. The boat’s crew fed the bird for several days before returning to port. The boat provides fish to the Sea World theme parks.
Brooks said both birds were a little thin, had lost a few tail feathers and had some scratches to their throat pouches. Otherwise, they seemed to have weathered their journey fairly well.
The birds were kept in an outdoor shelter first and then moved to a camping tent which had been prepared inside the clinic. Using containers resembling dog crates, the birds were flown on Saturday to Mary Keller Seabird Rehabilitation Sanctuary in Florida. The flight cost about 42000 and was paid for through donations from the public.
Typically, brown pelicans don’t venture farther north than North Carolina where they often breed in the summer before flying further south for the winter. Storms can often carry birds farther north than they would typically go on their own but according to Brooks, it is unusual to see Pelicans.