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Skip the plastic, save a pelican.

Every spring, Houston Audubon and other conservation organizations along the Texas coast participate in the Texas Colonial Waterbird Surveys to help monitor population trends in our state’s seabirds and wading birds. Houston Audubon, Audubon Texas and several additional undivided interest owners co-own North Deer Island, the largest and most productive breeding colony in Galveston Bay.

During the 2020 survey of North Deer Island, Houston Audubon staff noticed a pelican chick with an unusual bulge in its gular pouch which, upon further inspection, staff realized was caused by a discarded plastic bottle. Thankfully, Audubon Texas Warden, Dennis Jones, was able to approach and remove the bottle from the lucky young Pelican’s pouch.

Though this story has a happy ending, many of our coastal birds don’t get as lucky. Single-use plastic poses a threat to wildlife and is particularly dangerous for seabirds and other marine animals. In fact, nearly every species of seabird has been documented ingesting plastic. In some cases, like with the North Deer Island pelican chick, large pieces of plastic will prevent the bird from being able to forage. Plastic of all shapes and sizes, though, can cause devastating damage to these birds, from causing internal damage upon ingestion to entangling foraging birds.

The solution isn’t easy. Kicking our single-use plastic habits at all levels is necessary to slow the flow of plastic into our waterways and oceans. Plastic Free July is an excellent opportunity to not only challenge yourself to limit the amount of single-use plastic you purchase and use at home, but to challenge local restaurants, stores, industries, and government to do the same.

Houston Audubon and partners will be participating in Plastic Free July for the second year and invite you to join us! Throughout the month of July, we will be challenging our staff and volunteers to limit their use of plastic and sharing tips and tricks for limiting your use of plastic at home!

Be the solution to plastic pollution. Sign up for the Plastic Free July Challenge

Click here to read more about Houston Audubon’s Plastic Pollution Prevention Initiative

By Anna Vallery, Conservation Specialist, Houston Audubon

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