California — Pelicans suffering from a mysterious malady are crashing into cars and boats, wandering along roadways and turning up dead by the hundreds across the West Coast, from southern Oregon to Baja California, Mexico, bird rescue workers say.
Weak, disoriented birds are huddling in people’s yards or being struck by cars. More than 100 have been rescued along the California coast, according to the International Bird Rescue Research Center in San Pedro.
Hundreds of birds, disoriented or dead, have been observed across the West Coast.
“One pelican actually hit a car in Los Angeles,” said Rebecca Dmytryk of Wildrescue, a bird rescue operation. “One pelican hit a boat in Monterey.”
In Orange County, Calif., an estimated 25 to 30 birds have been treated at the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach in the last three weeks.
Many of the birds die of the illness; some recover and are released.
Many of the birds also have swollen feet.
Rescuers are wondering whether the illness is caused by a virus, or even by contaminants washed into the ocean after recent fires.