June 24, 2006

Calif. pelicans held on suspicion of being drunk

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Four pelicans suspected of being
drunk on sea algae were being tested at a Southern California
wildlife center on Saturday after one of them crashed headlong
into a car.

Three of the California brown pelicans were found wandering
dazed in the streets of Laguna Beach after another pelican
struck a vehicle's windshield on a nearby coast road.

It suffered internal injuries and a long gash in its pouch
and was undergoing toxicology tests.

Officials at the Wildlife Care Center said the seabirds may
have been under the influence of algae in the ocean that can
produce domoic acid poisoning when eaten.

The other pelicans were rounded up after assistant wildlife
director Lisa Birkle warned the public to be on the lookout for
birds acting "drunk," disoriented or being in an unusual place.

Shellfish tainted with domoic acid was thought to be the
culprit behind a 1961 attack of seabirds on people and cars in
the oceanside California town of Capitola that inspired Alfred
Hitchcock's horror movie "The Birds."