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Eastern brown pelican (Western Gulf Coast DPS)

The western gulf population of the eastern brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis carolinus) occurs along the Gulf of Mexico in Mississippi, Louisianna, Texas, Veracruz, and the Yucatan Peninsula, Belize, the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the Honduras, and the Pacific Coast Coasta Rica, and Panama [1]. It has a complex Endangered Species Act listing history. It was listed as an endangered species in 1970 as part of the species (P. occidentalis). In 1985 the portion of P. o. carolinus east of Mississippi was declared recovered and delisted. The MS, LA, TX portion remained listed as a single entity joined with the Caribbean (P. o. occidentalis) and west coast (P. o. californicus) subspecies. Logically, the listed entity should be split into the Western Gulf distinct population segment (MS, LA, TX population of P. o. carolinensis), the Caribbean brown pelican (P. o. occidentalis) and the California brown pelican (P. o. californicus).

Louisianna: The brown pelican is the state bird. It was extirpated between 1957 and 1961 but was restablished by 1971 [2]. Nests increased from 11 in 1971 [2], to 1,775 in 1989, to 10,217 in 1999 [2]. The National Audubon Society proposed removing it from the state endangered species list in 1999 [3].

Texas: Nests increased from 8 in 1970 [2], to 679 in 1989 and 2,813 in 1999 [1]. The National Audubon Society proposed removing it from the state endangered species list in 1999 [3].

Mississippi: Brown pelicans did not nest in Mississippi as of 1999 [1].

[1] Shields, M. 2002. Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis). In The Birds of North America, No. 609 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.
[2] USFWS. 1985. Removal of the brown pelican in the southeastern United States from the list of endangered and threatened wildlife. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, February 4, 1985 (50 FR 4938)
[3] National Audubon Society. 2005. Pelecanus occidentalis, Brown Pelican. Website (www.audubon.org/local/latin/bulletin5/featured.html) visited December 30, 2005.

Banner photo © Phillip Colla