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Look Who Sandy Blew In

Storm-displaced pelicans make themselves at home in Port Republic

Beyond tree branches and driving rain, Hurricane Sandy delivered flying surprises that prompted avid birders to describe her severe weather and blustery gusts as a productive storm.
    “It is as if the entire Northeast were a giant snow globe that has been lifted up and shaken, with a variety of bird species being found far from where they were before Sandy’s arrival,” the website ebird.com reported.
    I am forced to agree. Waking up to a flock of 24 double-crested cormorants and 25 brown pelicans on our jetty and pier redeemed my week.
    Through the processes of displacement and entrainment, strong winds and rain can shift sea birds inland, ebird reports. High numbers of anomalous birds may appear anywhere along the storm’s path. With extensive hurricane systems, storm-blown rarities appear as far inland as the Great Lakes.
    Birders are flocking to ebird.com to report their exceptional sightings. The website, launched in 2002 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, has revolutionized the reporting of bird abundance and distribution.
    It seems that a flock of brown pelicans perching on a pier in Calvert County in November is highly unusual. My reported sighting met a call for additional documentation. Fortunately, I have video of the lost birds hanging out on the railings along with cormorants, gulls, terns and one great blue heron.
    This chronicle was eerily serendipitous. Hurricane Sandy, my namesake, arrived on October 29, my birthday, to deliver a flock — of presents!