I recently stumbled across an on line article about nesting birds of coastal North Carolina. I read the following few paragraphs describing the plight and recovery of brown pelicans. The article is correct. Thirty years ago it was rare to see these marvelous birds around Ocracoke, and almost unheard of to see them any farther north. Today I understand pelicans nest as far north as New Jersey, perhaps even beyond. I quote,
"Brown pelicans were once endangered due to the spraying of DDT pesticide on cornfields. The toxic chemicals bled into the waterways and estuaries into the bellies of fish which were then consumed by water birds such as these. The concentrated pesticide inhibited the ability to lay an egg with a structurally sound shell. And even if those eggs affected by DDT didn't crack when they were laid, they were shattered when the mother tried to roost. At one point, the species was almost wiped out. But after the use of DDT was banned in 1972, it gradually recovered.
"'Thirty years ago,' [Walker ] Golder [deputy director of Audubon North Carlina] explained, "there was only one colony of pelicans in the state around Ocracoke, around 1980."
"Then there were less than 100 brown pelican pairs statewide, but a second colony congregated in the Cape Fear River and the numbers have skyrocketed.
"'Today there's about 4,000,' Golder explains. 'Pelicans are a real success story.'"
You can read the entire article, "For the Birds" by Jenny Yarborough in the Wrightsville Beach online magazine: http://www.wrightsvillebeachmagazine.com/article.asp?aid=746&iid=93&sud=27.
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the modern day ghost story, "Ode to Mrs. Godfrey," by guest columnist Tom McDonald. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news062111.htm.