SCARBOROUGH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Brown pelicans are somewhat of a rare sight this north, but a viewer and several others spotted at least one of the birds Tuesday and Wednesday off Pine Point and Prouts Neck.
It's unclear how long it stayed near the peninsulas flanking Nonesuch River, or whether it was indeed "off its course," but it certainly "beak-ed" the interest of observers. There were at least 15 sightings of the bird submitted by Mainers through an American Birding Association website as of Wednesday night.
Viewer Christopher L. Curry captured the bird in Scarborough sitting on one of the channel markers in front of Prouts Neck Yacht Club. Brown pelicans feed by diving into the water, which explains its location.
Though predictive data from the National Audubon Society (NAS) suggests brown pelicans' favorable climate conditions are moving north, and that breeding is fairly common on the Northeast coasts, the bird primarily inhabits the South and Gulf regions, justifying its use in Louisiana's state nickname.
According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), the brown pelican is found in the Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf coasts of North and South America — from Nova Scotia to Venezuela and from Britsh Columbia to the Galapagos Islands. That range would include Maine.
The bird was listed as endangered in 1970 by the FWS, but the NAS says the species' current abundance in the U.S. — which is of "Least Concern," categorically speaking, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature — represents a "success story for conservationists."