Pelicans are beautiful birds but I find American White Pelicans even more so. Their wingspan of 8-10 feet and more than a foot long beak make them really interesting. They are fascinating not only because of their shape but also because of their behavior and all white color. I consider myself lucky to live in an area close to Fremont’s Coyote Hills Regional Park and Don Edwards SF Bay National Wildlife Refuge – home to a large population of these beautiful birds. Some of these birds also migrate here in the winters from as far away as the Rocky Mountains.
Unlike brown pelicans, white pelicans are found inland, although often near coastal areas with brackish water. They live and nest on remote islands and places away from noises and human activity. Coyote Hills is such a jewel in the middle of suburbs. There is probably a colony of 50-100 birds that live on an island in the marsh. They eat carp, chub, perch, crayfish and other fishes. One of the most interesting thing about them is that they cooperatively forage to encircle and trap their prey. I have seen them do that at the old salt ponds at Don Edwards Wildlife Refuge.
These birds are “species of specicial concern” in California and need protection. Unfortunately, exactly the opposite will result from the proposed development at Patterson Ranch land. The developer (?) Richard Frisbie is proposing to build hundreds of houses right next to Coyote Hills. That might be a disaster for these birds and other fragile wildlife at Coyote Hills. The lights and noises will be a big problem for the pelicans. These pelicans are highly sensitive to human intrusion and disturbances. They abandon their nesting sites when they see people nearby or hear sounds. They also get easily poisoned from pesticides near their habitat, and as we know, pesticides are found in abundance in our lawns and gardens. Pelicans eat the discarded plastic bags and die. Dogs and children nearby will cause distress and pelicans will probably leave their nesting site.
Please click the link below and sign a petition for Fremont mayor and the city council and urge them to not approve the massive housing project right next to Coyote Hills. These beautiful birds depend on us to protect their habitat.