Dear Friends and Bird Allies,
To answer the question of how I helped a bird today, I must first back up to a recent Saturday when I was volunteering in the San Francisco Bay clinic.
Two adult Brown Pelicans had come into care with Domoic Acid poisoning, which can involve seizures. In order to control the seizures, the patients are heavily sedated to keep them still and quiet, almost in a comatose state. I was asked to assist the staff with the next round of IV fluids by acting as handler. I thought nothing of that when asked, as I’ve done this many times over the years.
One patient was being housed in one of the soft-sided pelagic boxes, which I thought very odd because pelicans are very tall birds and are usually housed in enclosures that accommodate their size. OK, so that was a new one on me.
When I pulled back the sheet covering the top of the box and got my first look at the patient, I had to stop for a few seconds and gather my composure. This magnificent, beautiful adult pelican was lying down in the box with its head propped up on towels, like a pillow. As I looked at the patient lying there, completely helpless and vulnerable, its state really touched my heart and paralyzed me for a few seconds. I picked up the bird, and it offered no resistance. The patient’s condition actually brought tears to my eyes.
How did I help a bird today? By reaching inside to find the courage and strength to keep my emotions at bay as was able to lend assistance to this poor animal in need.
When I reported for my shift the following Saturday, my first question was ‘how are the pelicans doing?’ I was so happy to learn that they had recovered and were now outside in the large flight aviary getting their health and strength back.
Over the years, I have come to love and respect the animals that have come through our door for help. I’ve seen birds that have come in with broken wings, fishing line and fishing hooks tangled around legs, wings, and mouth, infected wounds, birds that have been the subject of human cruelty; and somehow, they manage to live and survive in the wild with these incredible injuries that cause more pain than I can imagine. I am constantly amazed by their resolve and determination to survive.
–Donna Callison, Volunteer, International Bird Rescue
Majestic Brown Pelicans
Bird Rescue treats on average 200+ Brown Pelicans a year. Many of these majestic birds come into our two California centers with injuries caused by humans, ranging from the unintentional fishing line entanglements to outright cruelty. All of our pelicans are released with blue bands to help track them in the wild. Since 2009, we have banded 1,200 pelicans and have received more than 800 sightings reported by citizen scientists.