The Problem With Pelicans

Brown Pelicans

Brown Pelicans

This is Passport to Texas

You’re driving the posted 75 MPH speed limit on SH 48 in south Texas. It’s winter. Dusk. You’re crossing the bridge. Suddenly, you see a pelican on the road; you barely miss it.

What happened?

In winter, what’s been happening at the Gamin Bridge—at SH 48 in Bahia Grande—is strong northerly winds come through at dusk, when pelicans are coming from the coast; they want to go roost on the Bahia Grande, [but] the way the bridge as well as the concrete barriers is engineered, it’s creating these wind vortexes that—if they don’t get high enough loft—makes the birds lose loft, and they crash into the roadway.

Laura Zebehazy, program leader for Wildlife Habitat Assessment, studies the impacts of roadways on wildlife, known as road ecology. Researchers believe the structure of the SH 48 Bridge, along with the fluctuating tide, may impact the wind, and the pelicans’ fate.

It is contributing, but now there needs to be further research that looks at what can we do to the bridge and those concrete barriers that’s the most effective to alleviate the number of pelicans that are being impacted.

We’ll learn more about that tomorrow.

The Wildlife restoration Program supports our series.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

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