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Winter winds forces pelicans to land on hazardous Port Isabel highway

On Tuesday, winter winds forced a species of pelicans to ground before their preferred destination, landing them in hazardous situations.

On Tuesday, winter winds forced a species of pelican to ground before their preferred destination, landing them in hazardous situations.

Volunteers, local emergency crews and law enforcement lent a hand Tuesday to save brown pelicans in danger of getting struck by vehicles.

"Pulling them off the road, getting them banded and releasing them on the north side of the road where they want to be going," said Coastal Bird Conservation Biologist Stephanie Bilodeau.

Pelicans flying north to the Bahia Grande to nest were pulled down by winds and onto Highway 48, where vehicles travel up to 75 mph.

"There's these cement barriers on either side of the highway and in the middle, in some cases, causing some turbulence when the wind hits it,” Bilodeau said. “Pelicans are already flying low and when they hit that turbulence, it pulls them down right onto the road."

Bilodeau and several volunteers saved more than 60 pelicans that landed on the highway.

"Just over a month ago, we saved around 200 brown pelicans off of the road,” Bilodeau said. “That's about a quarter of the population that generally passes through in one night. So, that's a big amount of birds that could have been hit by cars if people weren't here removing them from the road."

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