Bald Eagles

Hungry pelicans continue to fill Southern California wildlife hospitals

Wildlife Technician Kadi Erickson examines a brown pelican at the International Bird Rescue in San Pedro.

More than 500 brown pelicans have been found starving or dead in the past two weeks on the southern California coast for reasons yet to be determined, wildlife officials said.

A mix of juvenile and adult pelicans have found themselves sick, injured and too weak to fly, flooding wildlife rescue centers with calls.

Some of the first signs of a problem occurred in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties. Nearly 230 brown pelicans were found in just 10 days, according to the Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Networkwhich rescues and rehabilitates seabirds found in both counties.

“They were definitely kind of the epicenter of it all in the beginning,” said Heather Perry, wildlife rehabilitation program coordinator for the state Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Related:Sick and injured brown pelicans flood rescue groups in Southern California

More than 100 pelicans remained in central Santa Barbara on Monday. Other pelicans had been transferred to the large International Bird Rescue Los Angeles County Hospital.

The San Pedro center had 204 seabirds this week, including 80 that had recovered enough to enter a outdoor aviary.

Some aren’t strong enough yet, said Rebecca Duerr, director of research and veterinary science at the hospital.

In addition to anemia and dehydration, a few pelicans have been hit by vehicles and several have been injured by hooks, signs likely related to riskier attempts to find food, she said.