Help track blue-banded California brown pelicans!

California brown pelican

International Bird Rescue is hosting a contest to encourage people to help identify and report blue-band California brown pelicans. Why should you participate? Because you’ll be helping International Bird Rescue (IBR) and California brown pelicans all in the name of science. It’s a triple win!

“Since 2009, we’ve been banding brown pelicans that we’ve rehabilitated with large, blue plastic bands to better facilitate tracking of these birds,” explained Andrew Harmon, Vice Chairman for IBR’s Board of Directors. “Our birders in California and the Pacific Northwest have been wonderful in reporting sightings, so to sustain the interest level and hopefully bring more people on board, we are launching a blue-banded pelican contest with binocular prizes (retail $500), courtesy of Eagle Optics, for the winning adult and youth participant.”

Photo credit: IBR

Participating is easy. All you need is a pair of binoculars to see the letter / number combination on the blue-band and a little notebook and pen to jot down all the details, including the location where you saw the pelican, the date and any other pertinent information. Then head to IBR’s website and report everything you saw. If you manage to get a photo of the bird too, that’s even better.

The person who spots the most blue-banded brown pelicans will be the winner! (There are two categories of participants: adults 18 and older and youth under the age of 18.) Winners receive binoculars and an honorary International Bird Rescue Pelican Partnership, which includes a tour of one of the California clinics and having the chance to see a pelican released. Super cool!

There’s a very good chance you’ll see a blue-banded California brown pelican on the west coast. IBR has banded and released more than 1,000 pelicans and they’ve been spotted from Mexico to Washington state and there have even been a few sightings in some of the Gulf states.

So head on out and find those blue-banded birds!  IBR’s website says it best: “As you aid the important scientific research on the travels of the Pelecanus occidentalis [the scientific name for California brown pelicans], you will be helping in their conservation.” For all the contest rules, visit International Bird Rescue’s website.


  1. says

    Thanks for the info, Carolyn. I love watching Pelicans, especially when they are flying in formation. When I am out photographing wildlife, I will definitely keep an eye out for the blue bands if I see any Pelicans.

  2. Angelo says

    I just shared info on my second blue tag pelican and it asked if I had any photos and I had photos of both sightings, but there was no option to upload photos?

    • Carolyn Kraft says

      Hi Angelo, I think someone from International Bird Rescue will get in touch with you about the photos, but just to be safe I will forward your comment and email address to IBR as well. Thanks!

  3. Harry Harris says

    In reviewing images I took at La Jolla Cove this morning. I have and image of a Brown Pelican with a blue band with the code V85. The image is timed stamped January 25, 2015 at 7:25 am.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *