Biologist and Volunteers Band Over 600 Brown Pelicans in Chesapeake Bay
Top, Student volunteers approach pelicans. Bottom, Placing band on pelican. Inset, Brown pelicans. Photos by Pete McGowan
On July 9 2012, two dozen young people ages 12 to 21 years old joined biologists from the Chesapeake Bay Field Office and Maryland Department of Natural Resources to help band fledgling brown pelicans on a remote island in the Chesapeake Bay.
The energetic volunteers, from Coastal Bays Stewards and Boy Scouts Venturing Crew 202, helped band 633 young pelicans on Smith Island, just over the state line in Virginia. Banding provides a unique opportunity to document and monitor an expanding bird population and to understand the expansion of brown pelicans north along the Atlantic Coast.
In order to conserve and protect brown pelicans, biologists need to know where the pelicans breeding in the Chesapeake Bay spend their winter and how successful their breeding colonies are each year. Counting the number of breeding pairs and banding their offspring each season provides a good way to assess the population.
"In all, it was a good day's work," noted John Weske, master bander who led the banding effort. “Even though a lot of the kids this year were rookies, they jumped right in.”
The Coastal Bay Stewards is a summer youth employment program made possible through a partnership of the Maryland Coastal Bays Program and Delmarva Low-Impact Tourism Experiences. The Venturing Crew 202 is part of the Boy Scouts of America and has volunteered on several local environmental projects for several years.
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