More than one year after cruel attack, a Brown Pelican soars high again

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Photos by Bill Steinkamp

Human cruelty incidents against Brown Pelicans are among the most heartbreaking cases our wildlife team sees. As this seminal 1992 Los Angeles Times article on the problem shows so vividly, such cruelty is longstanding, and unfortunately it continues to this day.

But such stories sometimes have happy endings. Over the weekend, we had the distinct pleasure of releasing a healthy, rehabilitated Brown Pelican, one that had been subjected to wing clipping more than a year ago (the perpetrator or perpetrators have not been found).

This bird originally came to our San Francisco Bay center in July of 2012 at only about four months of age, and weighed far less than an average four-month-old pelican. Sadly, its damaged feathers rendered the bird unable to fly, and therefore to hunt. With the pelican under anesthesia, the cut feathers were plucked to encourage new feather growth.

This spring, we transferred the bird to our Los Angeles center to continue its rehabilitation. And after 14 months in care, this pelican was successfully released alongside a fellow pelican on September 28 at Terranea Resort’s cove in Rancho Palos Verdes, not far from our L.A. center.

Click here for video of the release from Michelle Valles of NBC4 Los Angeles, who interviews center manager Julie Skoglund.

Keep an eye out for this pelican! As part of our Blue-Banded Pelican Project, this animal has a blue band reading “V50.” For more info on reporting Blue-Banded Pelicans, as well as our sighting contest that continues through October 14, click here.

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