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Kamikaze pelicans baffling Calif. scientists

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(Read caption) A brown pelican dives for fish. Scores of the birds have turned up sick and disoriented all along the California coast.

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Scores of weak and disoriented California brown pelicans have been slamming into cars and boats, landing on highways and airport runways, and turning up dead in back yards and parking lots many miles from their normal coastal habitats.

This behavior is far from ordinary, say wildlife experts. A lapel-grabbing press release from the International Bird Rescue Research Center in San Pedro says that something has gone seriously awry with the birds.

Typically this time of year we would see a significant die-off of YOUNG brown pelicans. We are seeing a larger than normal die-off of ADULTS - those are tremendously valuable to a population, potentially contributing to other species. This is not a good sign.
Secondly, we are seeing some common conditions - disorientation - birds landing inland, being found in neighborhoods, on roads, runways, etc. This disorientation implies something is wrong, possibly neurologically - they are not JUST STARVING!

Scientists are baffled by the mysterious illness, which has affected pelicans along the California coast from San Francisco to San Diego and whose symptoms include disorientation, extreme fatigue, and bruises inside the bird's pouches.


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