I won't try to fill in all of the blanks, but here's a quick recap of the second half of pelican season #3. For a much more exciting look at life in a pelican colony, check out this great report by Caitlin Lawrence of WMBB Television: http://www.mypanhandle.com/news/project-pelican-south-carolina-researchers-studying-seabirds-in-gulf-of-mexico.
In most of the colonies we studied in Florida and Alabama, 2015 was a great year. The grass and shrubs were full of healthy chicks, with many nests producing two or even three young. The key seemed to be plenty of fish, especially smaller fish like sardines and anchovies.
In Florida and Alabama, we didn't see many young menhaden, but we did see a lot of other small fish, especially sardines and anchovies. These may be taking the place of small menhaden as an energy-packed, easy-to-catch meal. Not many of these smaller species occur in Texas, so the young pelicans there are much more dependent on menhaden alone as a food source. Lukily, the menhaden fishery is considered one of the most well-managed and sustainable fisheries in the country, so-- unlike a lot of other seabird species-- pelicans may not need to worry about their prey disappearing any time soon.
Meanwhile, the rehabilitated pelicans in California seem to be thriving, and several have already visited San Francisco and are making their way to Oregon! We also got our first results back from heart rate monitors. Here's a day in the life of a pelican chick, measured in heartbeats: