FAQ

Where do Brown Pelicans go in the winter? I don’t see many of them on the coast from December through May/June.

Answer: Pelicans who are of breeding age (4-5 years old) generally fly South to either Baja (80-85 %) or to the Channel Islands (15-20%) to build nests and raise their young.

When do the Brown Pelicans return?

Answer: The birds who were just hatched around March or April return to look for fish along with the adults approximately late June or the first of July.

How many Pelicans are there in the world?

Answer: There are 8 species of pelicans worldwide. The Brown Pelican however, is the only plunge diver. There is a West Coast Brown Pelican and East Coast Brown Pelican – both plunge dive.

Why do you have Morro – is he ever going to be released?

Answer: Morro had an injury to his left wing, and through months of rehabilitation, the wing healed but remained “frozen” in a less than perfect position which doesn’t permit him to fly. He will never be released.

What do Brown Pelicans eat and how?

Answer:  Brown Pelicans eat fish that swim in large schools such as sardines and anchovies. They eat the fish whole after diving into the ocean from a range anywhere from 15’ – 75’ in the air. Their pouch fills with water and fish (hopefully), the water drains out through the sides of their bill, and the fish is swallowed.

How old is Morro and how old do Brown Pelicans live in the wild?

Answer:  Morro was born in 2008, injured in 2009 which is the year he came to live with me. The oldest recorded Brown Pelican lived to age 43.

What is the Brown Pelican wing span and weight?

Answer: The California Brown Pelican has a wingspan of approximately 6’ and they generally weigh approximately 10 pounds. Morro weighs 10 pounds.

Can we pet Morro?

Answer: No, Dani Nicholson obtained a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to take Morro out as an Educational Ambassador and that permit states that people must maintain a distance of at least 3’ from him and are not allowed to touch him.

What and how does Morro eat?

Answer: Morro eats whichever fish is available – anchovies or sardines, sometimes both for variety. Morro’s food is frozen then thawed and put in water in a bowl twice per day. He eats approximately 2-3 pounds of fish per day. Because frozen fish lack Vitamin B1, Morro is given a supplement every day specifically for marine birds.

Can I volunteer?

Answer: We don’t have specific volunteer positions, but volunteers will be welcome to help with cleaning, feeding, educational outreach set up and observation, but not touching the birds in care. Please leave a message for Dani: dani@willowtreewildlife.com.

Is Morro in pain?

Answer: No, Morro was in pain and given pain medication in the beginning of his care and treatment in 2009, but once the wound healed, he was and is unable to fly but is not in pain.

Why does Morro look different sometimes?

Answer: Brown Pelicans go through a couple of molts a year, where they lose and gain new feathers. This generally happens at the beginning of breeding season in late fall and then again at the end of spring, beginning of summer. Breeding plumage for a pelican means: eyes turn blue, back of neck turns deep brown, top of head above face bright yellow, and the pouch turns bright red. In summer, the eyes turn brown, the head and neck white, the pouch a grey/brown.

Do you recommend any websites?

Answer: Yes! Here are a few: