205  Pelican (American White Pelican) Banding Program   日本語    Bird Banding (aka Bird Ringing)  鳥類標識調査 - アメリカ白ペリカン標識調査   

Pelican Banding Program Photos  Fig. 1 -  14

This pelican banding program is held every summer, which I hadn’t known until I heard of the program from Naturalist Carole. Carole talked to me about this very interesting white pelican banding when I saw her at the Maplewood Nature Center in mid-May 2008. Her story on banding pelicans was really fascinating. Before I heard of her story, I’d had a few chances to see pelicans in the Twin Cities area when they were on the way south in fall (see our pelican photos). Since then I became a fan of pelicans because pelicans are cool birds and I’d never seen pelicans in Japan. I had been always wondering where American white pelicans nest in summer. So I begged her to let me participate in the program by any means. Carole kindly introduced me to her friend, Wildlife Biologist Jeff DiMatteo, who leads this banding program. With the timely help of Carole, I was very fortunate to have a chance to attend this pelican banding program last summer, July 2008.

Jeff told me about how this pelican banding program started: This pelican banding program started in 1972 by Dr. Alfred H. Grewe, Jr. (Fig. 1) from St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, MN. Al was a professor that Mark, Carole, and Jeff had when they were in graduate school. After Al passed away in 2001, one of his former graduate students Jeff succeeded this banding program. With the help of Al’s former students and others, Jeff has been able to keep this banding program going.

Banding was carried out in a pelican breeding colony in west Minnesota on July 12, 2008. Approximately 30 banders, who were all volunteers, came to the pelican colony for this banding program starting around 4 a.m. (even before the sunrise)1). I was so lucky that Jeff generously allowed me to stay overnight with around 20 banders at a
private hunting camp, which Jeff rented, the day before the banding event. Most of the banders are biologists. The banders came from not only Minnesota, but also North Dakota and South Dakota2

By the time we got to the island colony, most adult pelicans had left for their feeding places. Pelicans are ground nesters (as viewed in Fig. 2). Baby pelicans in the colony were approximately eight weeks old but already big and out of the nests. The babies could walk and swim as seen in Fig. 3, but couldn’t fly. Note that baby pelicans start to fledge at around 10 weeks. As you can anticipate, they were scared by banders as viewed in Fig. 4. I didn’t band pelicans, but I sometimes helped banders to hold pelicans before they were banded. Baby pelicans sometimes tried to escape from my hands by biting my arms with their large and long beaks. Some banders got scratches on their arms and a few got scratches even on their faces from pelicans’ beak biting. Biting makes sense because without their parents, baby pelicans felt as if this banding stuff had been a matter of life or death. We wished we could have communicated with baby pelicans to tell the babies good reasons why they were being banded3)

I forgot how many pelicans were banded on that day. But, anyways, lots of pelicans were banded as shown in Fig. 5, 6, & 74). I was able to see lots of baby pelicans up-close. Some pelicans got green-colored wing tags with numbers besides bands as seen in Fig. 8. Jeff is saying bands will be collected when pelicans die. On the other hand, numbers on tags will be reported to DNR or something like that when pelicans with these tags are sighted4). Several people including Mark and Jeff are checking pelicans’ health conditions by weighing pelicans, collecting pelicans’ blood, and so on, in addition to banding pelicans as seen in Fig. 9.

Unlike brown pelicans, white pelicans don't dive from the air to catch fish. Instead they dip their beaks into the water while swimming, and
use their large expandable throat pouches to catch fish5)

As you can imagine, wildlife is so tough and wild that some pelicans can’t survive. In fact, I spotted some dead baby pelicans and eggs which failed to hatch.

Carole told me, “Baby pelicans might sometimes puke on you when you scare them because puking is the only weapon that the babies can use to protect themselves. And puke stinks.” In fact, I sometimes saw about 10 dead crayfishes, which a baby puked, on the ground. The night before the banding day, a bander also warned me that pelican puke really stinks. In fact, stuff stinks, but to be honest with you, it was not as bad as I had anticipated. Probably we, the Japanese get used to various kinds of fish smells.

We were done banding for the day by around noon. Jeff was saying that he had to band more pelicans with a few other banders to finish banding the next day4). Around that time some adult pelicans began to return to the colony from their feeding places as shown in Fig. 10, 11, & 12. White pelicans in the air looked so cool! I was wondering what the babies, who got banded, would tell their parents what banders did to them while their parents were away. It was so windy around noon that we got wet on the boat because waves broke into our boat while getting back to the boat landing from the island. The good news was that my cameras and camcorder survived despite of the fact that I got soaked from head to foot.

This was the first time for me to see a pelican colony and lots of baby pelicans up-close. Now I know where American white pelicans nest. This banding program was really awesome and really amazing. I had great fun. I wish I’ll be able to participate in the banding event again when I get a chance.

Sure things are pelicans really appreciate this pelican banding program and the efforts of banders as seen in Fig. 13 & 14, especially this pelican banding program founder, the late professor Alfred H. Grewe, Jr. and his successor, the current banding program leader Jeff DiMatteo.
J. DiMatteo: Private Communications, all the facts on pelicans in this note were learned from Jeff unless noted.
J. DiMatteo: The reason we start so early is to avoid the heat of the day to reduce any stress on the pelicans (and the banders). 
2) J. DiMatteo: Other states represented by pelican banders last year include
Utah, Kansas, Wisconsin, and Indiana, and we had one bander from Sri Lanka as well as Japan.
Bird Banding Basics, for example, check here
4) J. DiMatteo:
We band 2,000 pelicans each year there. Usually, we do those, 500 ring-billed gulls, several hundred double crested cormorants, and as many herons and egrets as we can, and we usually do that in a single morning. Things didn't work so well last year, and we had to return a second day with a small crew to finish off the pelicans, and we never did get into the other species. Of the 2,000 pelicans, 200 also get the wing tags.  As far as where the bands and tags get reported, it is actually the BBL* that reports must go to. There is a web form (address below) where they can be reported, and the bands we put on also have a toll free "800" phone number and mailing address on the band so finders can report them. The BBL will then send a "Certificate of Appreciation" to the finder with information about the bird (species, age when banded, sex, banding location, bander, etc.).
     For what it's worth, there are at least 5 more active pelican colonies in
Minnesota and I also band in most of those. 
* BBL --- The USGS Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL) at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, MD. This is the federal office that, together with the Canadian Banding Office, administers and coordinates all bird banding in North America. The BBL's website can be found at <
http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/bbl/ >

5)  Field Guide to the Birds of North America (Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 1991), 4th ed., p. 50

More Banding Event Examples (
Bird Banding, aka Bird Ringing 鳥類標識調査): Banding at Eastman Nature Center, Falcon Banding in Minneapolis (Raptor Center), Banding at Hawk Ridge, Osprey Banding at Arboretum, Banding at Lowry Nature Center

We really appreciated J. DiMatteo’s kindness and generosity by which we were able to see the pelican breeding colony, see pelicans up-close, even touch baby pelicans, get info on pelicans, and meet many banders who love pelicans. We’re grateful to Carole for her help with which we learned about this program and were able to attend the program. Thanks also to all the banders who kindly shared their experience and knowledge about pelicans and wildlife with us.


6956 140817  "Janie spotted a Pelican, one of pelican babies banded at Marsh Lake in 2010!" Pelican (American White Pelican) Banding Program   
Janie Giltner: Tagged Birds  These are photos of the pelican taken by Janie at the lock and dam 14* on the IL (Illinois) side.   

July 31, 2014: Janie kindly e-mailed us, saying “I shot one of your pelicans with my camera. It's a green tag with black numbers reading 442! I was at the lock and dam 14* on the IL side. He was very happy eating fish healthy looking.  He told me to tell you hello! But I would love to know more about this bird If you have info.  I can send you a picture if you would like!” We forwarded Janie’s message to Jeff DiMatteo, the leader of the Pelican Banding Program; see our Letter 205 Pelican (American White Pelican) Banding Program. Jeff replied to Janie, “That pelican was one of 2000 pelican chicks banded as a flightless young on 26 June 2010 at the Marsh Lake pelican colony in Minnesota.” Later Janie reported her pelican sighting to THE NORTH AMERICAN BIRD BANDING PROGRAM - BIRD BANDING LABORATORY < http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/BBl/ > as Jeff wished.

Latest news on the Pelican Banding Program
Late SCSU professor's students continue pelican program  St. Cloud Times, Ann Wessel, 08/02/2014 

Lock and Dam No. 14 - Wikipedia
Locks & Dam 14 - Smith's Island Recreation Area  Pleasant Valley, Iowa
  United States Army Corps of Engineers - Wikipedia

Lock and Dam 14 Feb 14 2014 - YouTube
List of locks and dams of the Upper Mississippi River - Wikipedia
List of locks and dams of the Ohio River - Wikipedia
For more info on "Lock and Dam," check out Photo of the Week (or Day) 6957 140817 

6957 140817 
Lock and Dam
How a Lock and Dam works Mississippi River - YouTube
Time Lapse - Mississippi River - Lock & Dam #1 - YouTube

Upper Mississippi River.... Barge at Lock and Dam 11 - YouTube
#1,... Mississippi River Barge Towboats - YouTube

List of locks and dams of the Upper Mississippi River - Wikipedia
List of locks and dams of the Ohio River - Wikipedia
Lock and Dam No. 14 - Wikipedia  July 31, 2014, Janie saw a pelican banded in 2010.  see Photo of the Week (or Day) 6956 140917
Locks & Dam 14 - Smith's Island Recreation Area  Pleasant Valley, Iowa
  United States Army Corps of Engineers - Wikipedia

Lock and Dam 14 Feb 14 2014 - YouTube

modified: August 17, 2014
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