At one time the Brown Pelicans were usually less common north of the Carolinas. Within the last few years it appears the Brown Pelicans are venturing into the Southeast Coast of Virginia. Today many Brown Pelicans are spotted in and around the estuary of the James River that empties into the Chesapeake Bay. The primary food source for the Brown Pelicans is Menhaden fish.
In 2012 the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission declared that the Atlantic Menhaden was depleted due to overfishing. The decision was driven by issues with water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and failing efforts to re-introduce predator species, due to lack of Menhaden on which they could feed.
With these site indicators, could this mean the Brown Pelicans have return more abundantly due to improved water quality and the Menhaden are more plentiful?
Photos and article by Richard Smith