Because of the severe land loss in coastal Louisiana, many natural nesting areas for the Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) are disappearing. Based on field measurements, geographical information system analysis, and a review of the relevant literature, we developed design criteria for the optimal artificial breeding habitat for Brown Pelican. Brown Pelican colonized islands had at least 70% open water within 20 km surrounding the island. Persistent pelican colonies occurred at least 7 km from the mainland and 0.3 km from the nearest island. Long-term colonized islands were between 10 and 70 ha in size with the shrub and dune habitat ranging from 2 to 20 ha on these islands. Pelicans preferred nesting in shrubs, and nesting occurred at an average elevation of 30 cm above mean sea level. We recommend that management for pelican nesting habitat includes loafing habitat: a beach that is at least 28 m wide is recommended.
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Vol. 2005 • No. 212