LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. The driver was sober. The bird that
crashed through the windshield of his car might have been flying
under the influence.
A California brown pelican probably was intoxicated by a
naturally occurring toxin found in algae blooms when she hit the
car on the Pacific Coast Highway in Orange County Thursday,
wildlife officials said.
The driver was startled, but not hurt. The pelican needed
surgery for a broken foot, and also had a gash on its pouch.
"She's hanging in there," said Lisa Birkle, assistant wildlife
director at the Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center in Huntington
Though toxicology tests take several weeks, the odd bird
behavior was likely the result of poisoning from domoic acid, which
has been found in the ocean in the area, Birkle said.
Pelicans have excellent eyesight and are unlikely to fly into
cars when sober, Birkle said.
The center has received 16 calls of strange bird behavior in the
past week, and was holding three other birds found disoriented and
wandering through yards and streets.
Domoic acid poisoning was the most likely cause of a 1961
invasion of thousands of frantic seabirds in Northern California
that inspired Alfred Hitchcock's film "The Birds."
Those birds flew into buildings and pecked several humans.