Jeff Liechty, coastal biologist for the Florida Coastal Islands Sanctuaries (FCIS), motored up to Egmont Key National Wildlife Refuge in the Tampa Bay region, pulling out his binoculars to record the sea and shorebirds resting on the sand. Through monthly surveys in coordination with Joyce Kleen from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jeff counts birds at the refuge (which is also a Florida State Park), which most years is the largest nesting site along the Central Gulf Coast of Florida.
A colored band caught his eye, and he zoomed in on a bright blue band with the letters “AHJ” clearly visible. After snapping photos, Jeff continued with his survey, returning later to the office to look up the unique code that sets this pelican apart from all others. As soon as he pulled up the information, he tapped out a message to Rochelle Streker, Audubon’s Southwest Florida Shorebird Manager – he had found one of her pelicans!