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If you ever took a peek at Bird Rescue’s Los Angeles BirdCam between May and August, you marveled over the site of hundreds of Brown Pelicans, recovering from the Brown Pelican Crisis. With a closer look, one big bird stood out from the crowd: the American White Pelican. After 134 days in care, this bird finally earned his second chance in the wild on September 8.
A few months ago, this pelican was found with an unfortunately long list of injuries. He was brought to Bird Rescue from the El Dorado Nature Center on April 27 after experiencing an unknown trauma. He was suffering from a clavicle fracture on his right side, pubic bone fractures, Bumblefoot on both feet, intestinal parasites, bald spots throughout his feathers, and emaciation. After performing radiographs, staff also found he had ingested a screw.
Thankfully, this bird managed to recover without needing surgery. Over time, he regained more than 60 percent of his body weight while in care. This white pelican had the unique experience of recovering among hundreds of Brown Pelicans, and these two species seldom interact. White pelicans feed in shallow lakes, rivers, and marshes – unlike Brown Pelicans, who plunge for their fish along the coasts. In care, pelicans don’t discriminate as long as everyone gets a fish.
Despite his injuries, one of the most time-consuming challenges this bird faced was growing back his feathers. Our staff tracked his progress by monitoring his flight in the aviary. Once he could fly across the large pools without any trouble, he was cleared for release.
The American White Pelican was released in San Joaquin Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary in Irvine, CA, where he will likely meet other white pelicans for the first time in four months.