Alameda Point’s Breakwater Island is the most significant roosting area for brown pelicans in San Francisco Bay. It’s one of the little-known ecological treasures of Alameda.
Listed on the Endangered Species List from 1970 to 2009, California brown pelicans can often be seen circling around the Seaplane Lagoon and the Inner Harbor further east looking for fish. It is quite a sight to witness a pelican pausing in mid air and then diving straight as an arrow down into the water.
The endangered California brown pelican’s successful recovery effort is evident every summer through fall on Breakwater Island, an area which forms the beginning of the Alameda Point Channel leading to the ship docks and Seaplane Lagoon. The breakwater is a wall of boulders that the Navy built up from the Bay floor to reduce wave action in the harbor.
On a recent kayak trip in October out in the Alameda Point Channel I had the good fortune to see brown pelicans basking in the sun on Breakwater Island. With unusually calm water, I was able to steady my camera lens enough to get some photos of young, middle age, and old pelicans.
When I uploaded the photos I was surprised to find that one of the pelicans had a band on its leg that said K69. I sent the info to the International Bird Rescue Center in Cordelia near Fairfield. They said K69 was brought to them on July 9th looking thin and weak and less than a year old. After one month of rehab at their clinic in Cordelia, the center took the pelican down to Elkhorn Slough Estuarine Reserve near Watsonville and released it. They said some of their rehab pelicans have been spotted in Oregon and Washington.
If you spot a brown pelican with a blue band, International Bird Rescue banded it. They operate two centers — one in Los Angeles, and one in the Bay Area. They ask that you report the sighting so they can track their success.
Visit the Alameda Point Environmental Report for more photos of the Breakwater Island pelicans, along with more of the story about the brown pelicans.