Rare warm weather lands pink pelicans in Siberia

Tue Nov 16, 2010 1:13pm EST
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BARNAUL, Russia (Reuters Life!) - A flock of African pink pelicans en route home landed in Siberia on Tuesday, astounding local residents after Russia's abnormally warm weather threw them off course.

"I left home early in the morning and what a sight!" Vladimir Pyagin, a resident of the small village of Suslovo in the Altai region, told Reuters.

"When I got closer, I immediately realised they were pelicans... Everybody in the village started trying to catch them to save the exhausted birds from the dogs."

Residents managed to capture four of the exotic birds, who have been moved to a zoo in the regional capital of Barnaul, 200 km (120 miles) northeast of the village.

The remaining three of the addled flock took flight.

Russia's Bird Conservation Union said the birds were migrating back to their native Africa from neighboring Kazakhstan.

"This is a unique case. Some reports suggest pelicans last flew here over 100 years ago," said union head Alexei Ebel.

Russia, famed for its freezing temperatures, is breaking records for abnormally warm November weather with temperatures in Altai hovering around 5 degrees Celsius (41 Fahrenheit). In other parts of the country, there have been reports of bears and hedgehogs who had delayed hibernation.

The Barnaul zoo director said the pelicans would remain in the zoo out of fear the birds would not survive the upcoming winter.   Continued...

<p>Zoo officials hold pink pelicans at their aviary in Barnaul, November 16, 2010. REUTERS/Andrei Kasprishin</p>