|Baby Brown Pelicans on Gaillard Island, Alabama (2011)|
Back in the early 1990s, shortly after the island was created out of the dirt dug up to make the Theodore Industrial Canal, around 1,000 pairs of pelicans showed up to nest. This year, there are 4,000 to 6,000 pairs, along with more than 10,000 pairs of gulls, herons, ibis and terns.
The 8,000 pelicans are now raising around 16,000 chicks, while the 20,000 gulls and other birds are raising around 40,000 chicks, meaning there are more than 80,000 birds on the island.
We can always throw that caveat that we won’t know for years if the spill caused a problem, but a good hunch is that in the short term, it doesn’t appear to have had an effect, Clay said last week.
He said nearly every kind of shorebird common in the state nests on Gaillard. The island is prime bird habitat for two reasons: there are no predators and there are no people.