Pelican K15 at Pacifica Pier

We’d gone for a walk to Pacifica Pier last month. It’s about 20 minutes from here, but feels like another world. When you walk all the way out and look down at the sea, it’s almost like being on a ship.

pacifica pier

It was late in the afternoon, and the fishermen were beginning to think about leaving. Suddenly, a [brown] pelican descended on the railing, quite fearlessly looking around for handouts.

pelican and fishers

pelican k15 I took a few snaps, then realized it was banded. I moved in closer, and could see the band was prominently marked K15.

It apparently knew the drill. A couple of people gave it their bait fish as they left.

One fisherman told me, as he packed up his gear, that this particular bird was often here. He’d been told, he said, that it was a youngster, and born late in the season. Mortality rates were high for such late-hatched birds.

I wonder if that’s true, and also wonder who banded the bird. It’s clearly meant to be read from a distance.

(If anyone knows, comment here or email me? I tried posting on the SFBirds group of Yahoo, but they only permit San Francisco posts.)


As we were leaving, we saw a couple of wildlife rescue people armed with  net and a carry-box, rounding up an injured gull on the beach. I felt like cheering. (If you happen to read this, rescuers, thanks for your work!)

[Edited to Add: Later, I found out about International Bird Rescue. They have a form to report blue-banded birds on their website, so I did. Here’s what they wrote back.

K15 is one of our celebrities.  It hangs out at the Pacifica Pier a lot and unfortunately gets fed.  He has every ability to care for himself but he likes the snacks.   I am attaching some things for you and one is the poster for the banding project.  K15 is our poster bird.  K15 originally came into our rehabilitation clinic in Cordelia on June 23, 2011 with pouch lacerations and he was in a weakened state.   He was a first year bird and was rehabilitated and released on July 26, 2011 in Alameda.

K15 has been reported 10 times since his release.  It’s doing really well but I really hate people feeding it.  That makes them habituated and that always ends up bad for the bird.  Fingers crossed!

Thank you so much for reporting the bird.  I love your blog.

Thanks for the work you do!  (Here’s the poster – like the one below – as a PDF: BirdRescueBandedPelican)

pelican poster

And if you’re interested in more information about California’s brown pelicans, International Bird Rescue prepared a one-pager (attached here as a PDF): Understanding Brown Pelicans- final ]

4 thoughts on “Pelican K15 at Pacifica Pier”

  1. Met K15 this foggy Saturday morning, 10/12/2013, at the Pacifica Pier. He or she allowed a number of pics to be taken, including by a group of tourists. Seems to enjoy the attention.

  2. I ran into K15 on the Pacifica Pier on New Years Day 2015. Only thing that disturbed me is all the humans with no Pelican knowledge trying to feed and touch him. People need to understand this bird was originally rehabilitated as a juvenile in 2011 for emaciation and a pouch laceration. He was released in Nov 2011. He is an adult now and needs to not be dependent on humans for food.

    [Webmaster: I’m glad he’s still around over four years after his release. (International Bird Rescue said he was released in July 2011). I suspect he isn’t actually dependent because as you say, he can fish for himself. He probably enjoys the attention and handouts. Thanks for caring!]

    1. Hi the International Bird Rescue sent me an email and in it told me he was release in Nov of 2011. I sent them the photos I took of K15 that day and they sent me a nice email and a bit about K15. Here is what they had to say.

      “Thank you for the report and photos! K15 is a bird originally rehabilitated as a juvenile in 2011 for emaciation and a pouch laceration. He was released in Nov 2011. Although he likes to hang out at the Pacific Pier and Pillar Point and has been re-sighted many, many times, he also was sighted repeatedly in Westport WA during summer 2013. We have hopes he will start acting more like a grown up now that he has full adult plumage. He thankfully has so far avoided becoming entangled in fishing line while hanging out at the pier.”

      [Webmaster: Thanks, DeDe! International Bird Rescue are also the source for the quote above – so some time in 2011. Thank goodness K15 has not got into trouble again.]

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